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From a bust in the Capitoline Museum, Rome. 

Civil War and Rebellion 

in the 

Roman Empire 

A.D. 69-70 















Cop S 







From the days of the elder Pliny to the present 
there have been many who have written concerning 
the history of the Civil Wars of a.d. 69 and 70. Of 
the writers whose works are extant, Tacitus stands 
easily first. Without his "Histories" we should 
indeed have but an inferior story of the struggle 
between the Emperors Otho and Vitellius, and a 
still poorer story of that between Vitellius and 
Vespasian. And yet always from the very first 
the strategic and military aspect of the three cam- 
paigns narrated by Tacitus has been neglected. 
To write the history of those campaigns by the 
aid of, and as illustrative of, modern strategical 
principles is the main purpose of this book. 

Two recent writers, it is true, have to some 
extent recognised the interest and value of such a 
treatment of Tacitus' story. Gerstenecker in 1882 
contributed some suggestions on the military history 
of the war between Otho and Vitellius. 1 These, 

1 Der Krieg dcs Otho und Vitellius in Italien im J. 6g, von Joh. 
Gerstenecker. Programm des Kdniglichen Maximilians-Gymnasiums fur das 
Schuljahr 1881-82, Svo, Miinchen, 1882, pp. Si. 



however, seem to me of peculiarly little value in 
spite of their considerable length, lacking alike in 
military knowledge and in insight. Mommsen's 
short paper, on the other hand, published in 1871, 
is full of valuable suggestions. 1 It will always be 
almost impertinent for any student of Ancient 
History to commend any paper by the German 
master. This article, however, is very brief, deals 
scarcely at all with the strategy of the campaigns 
before the actual contact of the opposing armies 
upon the field of battle, and is still, I think, in one 
or two respects unduly captive to Tacitus, whom 
Mommsen himself has called, once and for all time, 
" the most unmilitary of historians." 

For in very truth the inadequate and short- 
sighted treatment of the military problems and 
history of these two years has to be referred back 
to the Roman historian. The more often I read 
Tacitus, the more convinced I become that in 
matters military his information represents little but 
the common gossip of the camp, the talk of the 
private soldier or subordinate officer, reproduced at 
second-hand with all the literary power of a great 
writer who possessed the most vivid visualising 
power (if I may so call it). The troops on the 
blood-stained plain outside the red walls of Cremona 
battled, as it were, before Tacitus' very eyes, as 

1 Die zivci Schlachtcn von Betriacum imjahre 6g n. C/ir. } " Hermes," Band 
v. (1871), pp. 161-173 ; recently republished in Mommsen's Gesammelte 
Schriften, Band iv. pp. 354-365, 8vo, Berlin, 1906. 


he sate writing in his study. But the historian was 
but a pleader at the Roman bar who had taken to 
history. How should such a rhetorician care to 
inquire very deeply into the strategical causes which 
led to that battling in that precise position? He 
seems to have felt no interest in any such inquiry, 
and distance of time did not increase for him clear- 
ness of vision. Generals are criticised hastily ; 
impossible plans are ascribed to them ; strategies 
are ignored or misrepresented ; events strategically 
connected are treated as isolated movements ; 
success or apparent failure is the one criterion of 
judgment. With all this, the troops' endurance and 
pluck are rightly recognised ; brilliance and " dash " 
are duly appraised. But the result of such an 
attitude to events is but an unsatisfactory military 
history, as we in this country have had recent cause 
to know. Yet it is surely the military history of 
these campaigns which is of great, perhaps chief, 
interest. " Nothing," remarks a modern writer of 
military history, " is so misleading as the camp 
gossip which is reproduced in many memoirs." ' 
Tacitus' "camp gossip" has been too faithfully 
repeated as the whole sound sense of the matter 
by historians who have had to rely almost entirely 
upon his narrative for their facts. 

During these last twelve years it has been my 
good fortune to roam on foot many times in different 

1 Maj.-Gen. Sir J. F. Maurice, The Diary of Sir John Moore, ii. p. 373. 


parts of Italy. If in this book I now attempt, after 
two recent visits of my own to the actual theatre of 
war in the Lombard plain, to trace again the history 
of these campaigns, it is with the hope chiefly of 
calling attention to a somewhat neglected part of 
them, namely, the strategical and geographical 
questions which they involve. For this more 
prosaic purpose such fineries of language as, for 
example, adorn Merivale's record of these wars 
cannot be allowed to me. For me the Vitellian 
columns of invasion cannot be seen " beetling on 
the summits of the Alps," nor can Otho be found 
" bounding from his voluptuous couch at the first 
sound of the trumpet." An insistence on a different 
method of treatment of these wars must be, if it so 
happen, my justification for yet another handling of 
an old theme. 


Oxford, March 1908. 




The Campaign of Otho and the Vitellians 
January-April a.d. 69 

§ 1. The origins of the civil war ; the fall of Nero ; the rule 
of Galba ; the revolt of Vitellius and the " Army of 
Germany " ; the accession of Otho .... 1 

§ 2. The troops engaged ; the military system as cause of 
the civil war ; strength and position of the opposing 
armies ; the strategic initiative . . . . 16 

§ 3. The strategical aspect of the opening campaign, and 

opportunities of the two sides ..... 38 

§ 4. The march of the two Vitellian advance columns under 

Valens and Caecina . . . . . . 57 

§ 5. The Othonjan measures of defence ; use of the fleet ; 
the mobilisation of the " Army of the Danube " : the 
loss of Cremona ....... 70 

§ 6. The first encounters ; assault on Placentia ; battle of 

Locus G&Stprum . . . . . . . 81 

§ 7. The strategies of the final struggle ; Vitellian " strategy 
of penetration " ; Otho's Council of War ; Othonian 
" strategy of envelopment " . . . . . 92 

§ 8. The " Battle of Bedriacum " 114 

§9. The death of Otho /124 





The Flavian Invasion of Italy 
July-December a.d. 69 

§t ia Vitellius and his army in Rome . . . . .128 

§ 2. The gathering of the storm . . . . .132 

§ 3. Flavian plans of war : — 

The muster of the Eastern army ; the Council of 
War at Berytus ; the " strategy of exhaustion " ; 
the Council of War at Poetovio ; the " strategy 
of annihilation " . . . . . .141 

§ 4. The strategy of the defence . . . . . 165 

§ 5. The strategies compared . . . . . .173 

§ 6. The second " Battle of Bedriacum " : — 

The Flavian advance to Verona ; the race for 
Cremona ; the battle of Cremona ; the sack of 
Cremona . . . . . . .185 

§ 7. The advance to Rome : — 

The halt at Fano ; movements of the Vitellian 

forces ; the capture of Rome . . . .206 

§ 8. The death of Vitellius 228 


The Rebellion on the Rhine 

a.d. 69, 70 

§ 1. The tribes of the " Low Countries " . . . . 231 

§ 2. The cause of the rebellion : — 

The " armed plea for liberty " ; the peoples of the 
revolt ; the leaders : Classicus, Tutor, Sabinus, 
Civilis ........ 237 



§ 3. The Roman army on the Rhine : — 

Its composition and numbers : ( 1 ) legionaries, (2) 

auxiliaries; its weakness . . . . 250 

§ 4. The war, up to the relief of Vetera : — 

The clearing of the " Island" ; the siege of Vetera ; 
the advance of the relieving army ; the relief of 
Vetera . . . . . . . .261 

§ 5. Flood tide : the success of the Mutiny : — 

The retention of Vetera ; the death of Vocula ; the 

loss of Germany . . . . . .276 

§ 6. The Ebb : reduction of the Gallic revolt : — 

The gathering of the Romans ; the struggle with 

the Treveri ; the advance to Cologne . . 290 

§ 7. The submission of the Germans ..... 306 

§ 8. The lessons of the Mutiny : — 

The results in Gaul and Germany ; the results in 
the Roman army : (1) legionaries, (2) auxiliaries ; 
the Flavian Army of the Rhine ; the victory and 
strength of Rome . . . . . .318 


To Chapter I. 

A. The Movements of the Danube Legions . 

B. The Capture of Cremona by the Vitellians 

C. The Site of Bedriacum .... 

D. The " Distances " in Tacitus, ii. 39, 40 . 

E. Tacitus as Military Historian 


To Chapter II. 

F. Valens' March to the North ..... 348 

To Chapter III. 

G. Vetera and Harper's Ferry . . . . 350 
H. The Flavian Army of the Lower Rhine . . . 352 


Galba (from a Bust in the Capitoline Museum, Rome) 
Otho (from a Bust in the Capitoline Museum, Rome) 
Vitellius (from a Bust in Vienna) .... 

Vespasian (from a Bust in the Museo Nazionale, 
Naples) ....... 

Coins of Galba, Otho, Vitellius, Vespasian 


To face I 

,, i _u 

„ 138 

„ 26l 

Note. — The busts of Galba, Otho, Vitellius, and Vespasian are reproduced 
from Rom. Ikonographie ii., by kind permission of Prof. J. J. Bernoulli. 


Diagram . 

Diagram . 

Diagram . 

Diagram . 

The Theatre of War, 


Diagram . 

Diagram . 

The War on the Rhi 

The Via Postumia 

Diagram . 

Diagram . 


le, A 

D. 69- 





To face 230 

To face 336 

• 345 

• 35i 

From a bust in the Capitoline Museum, Rome. 



After a war one ought to write not only the history of what has happened, 
but also the history of what was intended ; the narrative would then be 
instructive. — Von der Goltz. 

§ i . The Origins of the Civil War 

Soon after daybreak on the 9th of June a.d. 68 
the Roman Emperor Nero died by his own hand. 
He who had been for thirteen years the master of 
the Roman world ended his life in squalor and in 
misery, with only three freed slaves and a treacherous 
centurion present to watch his death. He who was 
the last descendant of Julius Caesar, the last Prince 
of the Julian line, enjoyed for resting-place on the 
last evening of his life the gloomy underground 
cellar of a villa in the suburbs of his capital ; for the 
furniture of his death-chamber a scanty mattress 
and a ragged quilt ; for the final banquet a little 
lukewarm water and old crusts of bread. Thanks 
to others' falseness and his own faint-heartedness 
he had to die. His cruelty and lust had cost him 
many friends ; his passion for art and music had 
cost him more. But the chief cause of his ruin was r 



the indifference shown by him towards his troops, 
towards the art of war, towards the practice of the 
camps. The nobles, who had found a ruthless perse- 
cutor in him ; the philosophers, who wrote him down 
a frenzied tyrant ; the Christians, who supposed him 
to be the Antichrist, lord of a world abandoned by 
God, — these all rejoiced at his miserable end and 
defamed his memory. But the lower classes in Rome 
mourned for him. Unknown hands yearly decked his 
tomb in the gardens of the Pincian Hill with spring 
and summer flowers. The countless inhabitants of 
Italy and the provinces of the Roman Empire had 
no reason to welcome his overthrow. Not a few 
of these in the past had enjoyed his care for them, 
and might in gratitude sorrow for his fall. Neither 
had the Imperialist any reason to denounce this the 
last Julian Emperor. Britain had been well-nigh lost, 
but the triumphant courage of Nero's legionaries had 
saved it to the Empire. The war upon the eastern 
frontier with Rome's old and bitter Parthian enemy 
had at last been ended, not without glory to the 
Roman arms, and now, after a century of hostility, 
there was a fair promise that the agreement 
reached would be an enduring peace with honour. 
But all such blame and all such praise availed 
Nero little when his soldiers felt no love for him, 
and had no reason to admire him or fear him as 
their General. When the standard of rebellion was 
raised in distant Spain, his Guards at Rome, piqued 
and deceived, deserted their Prince. Nero, 
abandoned, treacherously betrayed, slew himself. 
The whole Empire, if it had good cause for joy 



at the death of the man, had speedily reason to 
regret the downfall of the Emperor. 

For now, to use the words of the Roman historian 
Tacitus, the secret of the Empire was revealed. 
"A prince could be appointed elsewhere than in 
the city of Rome." Hitherto, under Tiberius, I 
Caligula, Claudius, and Nero, the Imperial power 
had in practice been but the heirloom of the Julian 
family. Now the last of the family was dead. Yet 
some Emperor there must be. The vast body of 
the Empire could not " stande without governour." * 
But there was no heir to the throne. The Prince 1 
must now in actual fact be "elected," and thus the 
theory of election which, as a theory, had persisted 
from the beginning must be realised in practice. 
Men flattered themselves that such an election was 
a sign of liberty restored. It was in reality no gain 
to liberty that the might of armed force now took 
the place of such a right as inheritance might give. 
It was no gain to liberty that " two common soldiers 
of the line took upon themselves the task of trans- 
ferring the Empire over the Roman people from 
one Prince to another, and transferred it." 2 

At this time, in fact, the army of the Roman 
world was not at unity with itself. Upon the death 
of Nero different armies in different quarters of 
the Empire set up their own popular leaders and 
generals as claimants to the Imperial power. Why 
should the legions of Germany, or the proud 

1 Sir H. Savile's translation of Tacitus, Histories, i. 16 (1591). 

2 Tacitus, Histories, i. 25. All references henceforward to Tacitus in the 
notes which give a number only are references to the Histories. 


Praetorians of Rome, submit to an Imperator 
appointed by the troops in Spain ? Why should 
the veteran and victorious army of the East or the 
hardy garrison of the Danube frontier tamely 
accept an Emperor at the hands of the rebel 
soldiery of the Rhine ? The miserable death of 
Nero was ominous of the greater misery to come, 
of the terrors of a year of savage civil strife. The 
Empire was the prize for which the armies battled ; 
Italy was the battle-ground. Twice within eight 
months armies of invasion swept down over the 
Alps upon the unhappy land. " Ah, would that 
Italy had never been dowered at Fortune's hands 
with the luckless gift of beauty ! " cried the 
Florentine poet of the seventeenth century :— 

Ch' or giu dall' Alpi non vedrei torrenti 

Scender d' armati, e del tuo sangue tinta 
Bever 1' onda del Po gallici armenti. 

But now it was the very Empire of the Roman 
world which called the rivals down to Italy. 

Nero had been indifferent to war and its pursuits. 
Such interests were unworthy of an artist, if not 
of an Emperor. This indifference on his part 
revenged itself upon the fairest of all beautiful 
lands. Four Roman Emperors perished within 
twenty months. Two of these, Nero and Otho, 
fell by their own hand. Two, Galba and Vitellius, 
were murdered in open daylight by order of their 
conquerors. The death of each of these selfish and 
ambitious princes might have seemed a gain to the 
Roman world, had not each been followed by such 


a successor. Then at the last Vespasian came, and 
the land had peace. It was always Italy which paid 
the chief part of the price of this, the contending of 
the Emperors. Those who have ever seen her 
dancing sunlight and luxuriant plains, her rushing 
rivers and her sombre mountains, know that this 
land alone might seem worth all the striving. 

Servius Sulpicius Galba 1 had already been in~ 
arms against his Emperor for some two months when 
the Roman Senate elected him " Princeps " on the 
day of Nero's death. He was a man of high birth, J - 
descended on his mother's side from Lucius 
Mummius, the destroyer of Corinth in 146 B.C. 
After a long and honourable civil and military 
career in other parts of the Empire, Galba had been 
sent by Nero to govern the province of Hispania 
Tarraconensis (North -East Spain) eight years 
before, and there as governor he had stayed ever 
since. There, too, increasing years and familiarity 
with his duties had presently changed him from a 
vigorous and efficient governor to one careless and 
indolent. No one, he said, had to render an account 
of his idle hours. But an alarming rebellion in the 
neighbouring land of Gaul broke out in the spring 
of a.d. 68, and compelled him to take action either 
with or against the rebels. Impelled by the offers 
of the rebel leader Vindex and by his own personal 
ambition, he chose the former course and renounced 
his allegiance to Nero. The Gallic rebellion 
indeed was promptly crushed by the Roman army 

1 Galba, cf. Suetonius, Galba, 1-9; Plutarch, Galba, 3, 4, 8. His prae- 
nomen Lucius he changed to that of Servius in A.D. 68. 


in the district of Upper Germany under its famous 
general Verginius Rufus. But the infection of dis- 
loyalty was in the air, and even Verginius' victorious 
troops were eager to march to Rome and set up 
their general there as Emperor. But Verginius 
was well content with his achievement. He had 
saved the integrity of the Roman Empire and now 
would preserve his own. It was still possible to 
find in the Roman Empire a general of repute who 
was untainted by any ambition save by that of 
serving his country. He declined the offered gift 
of Empire, and his troops had sullenly to acquiesce. 
Galba therefore, despite his great miscalculation, 
reaped the fruits of Verginius' refusal, and had his 
short-lived joy of them. He was now an old man of 
seventy-three years of age, but the crisis called out 
his better military qualities. On receiving from 
Rome the tidings of Nero's death and of his own 
election as Princeps he marched for Rome at the 
head of a newly-raised legion, the Seventh Galbiana, 1 
and found his progress unopposed. Towards the 
middle of October in the year a.d. 68 he entered 
the city, and though his entry had been marred 
by scenes of needless bloodshed and panic, no 
rival yet disputed with him his possession of the 
Imperial power. For some three months after his 
entry Galba remained Emperor of Rome. But 
then the end came. It took but these three months 
for him to lose the popularity which, by remaining 

1 This legion later was known as the Seventh Gemina, but this title seems 
to have been given it first by Vespasian, when he disbanded the First legion 
(so Heraeus, note to Tac. i. 6). Galba evidently sent it almost at once to 
Pannonia, as it is found here in January A.D. 69. 


unknown, he had gained. His Ministers and 
dependents justly earned dislike by their venality 
and greed, and this dislike was extended to the old 
Emperor, who made no attempt to check their 
rapacity. His own severity, amounting in cases to 
cruelty, his age, his ugliness, above all his fatal 
parsimony, cost him the support of all classes in the 
city, who were quick to contrast him in all these 
respects with the Nero whom he had supplanted. 
He was, it is true, a brave disciplinarian, and 
scorned to secure by purchase the doubtful fidelity 
of his wavering Guards. The exhausted state of 
the Roman Treasury would indeed have amply 
justified the greatest thrift and the most careful 
financial administration on the part of any ruler save 
one who, like Galba, could only buy the goodwill 
of the soldiery by donatives, the affection of the 
unruly populace by extravagance. Tacitus' biting 
epigram has characterised Galba for all time : 
" Omnium consensu capax imperii nisi imperasset." 1 
The disaffection of the troops in Germany and the 
treachery of one of his disappointed adherents in 
Rome showed how shifting and unstable was the 
foundation of honesty upon which Galba had striven 
to build his rule. It was not for the enjoyment of" 
such an Emperor that Nero had been overthrown. 

The trouble began in " Germany." This was 
the name given by the Romans of this time to the 
districts lying on the left bank of the river Rhine 
from Lake Constance to the sea. Augustus had 
renounced the attempt to add to the Empire 

1 Tac. i. 49. 


territory over the river, and the German savages 
between the Rhine and the Elbe remained inde- 
pendent of Roman government henceforward. 
Those tribes who lay immediately opposite the 
Roman settlements and garrisons on the left bank 
were to a certain degree civilised by their acquaint- 
ance with their Roman neighbours and Romanised 
kinsmen, and Roman traders ventured in their 
pursuit of wealth to penetrate districts which were 
to the Roman legionary forbidden land. But the 
venturesome traders took their lives in their hands, 
as they had done among the independent Gallic 
tribes in the days of Julius Caesar, and the farther 
east they travelled among the black forests and 
mountains of the land which is modern Germany, the 
more barbaric and terrible they found the German 
tribes. Migrations of whole peoples were not 
uncommon, and each tribe lived by plundering its 
neighbours when the whim seized it. Restless 
savagery and lust for bloodshed, precarious peace 
and internecine war, such were the pursuits and 
characteristics of the hordes who roamed the lands 
east of the Rhine. The more restless cast greedy 
eyes on the fields lying west of the river ; the more 
peaceable were driven by the irresistible pressure 
of wild tribesmen from the unknown forests of the 
interior to strive to put the barrier of the river 
between themselves and their assailants. 

The Roman Empire was therefore compelled to 
" police " its side of the Rhine by a strong stand- 
ing army. For this purpose the left bank was 
marked out into two districts, each of which was 


garrisoned by four legions with auxiliaries to help 
them, and was under the military control of a 
governor, the Legatus Augusti pro praetore. 
" Upper Germany " stretched from Lake Constance 
to a point midway between Coblenz and Bonn 
(now Brohl, between Andernach and Remagen) ; 
" Lower Germany " reached from this point to the 
sea. For civil administration " Germany " belonged 
to the province of Gallia Belgica down to the days 
of Domitian ; for financial, at least half a century 
longer. 1 But the governor of Belgica had no 
regular troops at his command, so pacified by now 
seemed the Gauls ; and the two governors of Upper 
and Lower Germany, commanding, as they did, 
powerful armies on the frontiers, were the men 
on whose sagacity depended the security of the 
Empire, on whose fidelity that of the Emperor at 

Galba shortly after his accession had recalled 
the governor of Upper Germany, Verginius Rufus, 
and executed the governor of Lower Germany, 
Fonteius Capito. To take their places he had 
appointed to Upper Germany an old and infirm 
man, Hordeonius Flaccus, who proved utterly 
unable to control turbulence or mutiny among his 
troops. To Lower Germany he sent Aulus 

Vitellius was then fifty-five years of age. His 
career up to that time had been a curious mixture 
of good and evil. As a boy he had been in 
attendance upon the morose old Emperor Tiberius 

1 See below, Chap. III. § 3. 



in his retreat on the island of Capri, and men were 
therefore but too ready to speak ill of him. In 
Rome he had won the young Caligula's favour by 
his skill in chariot-driving, and the goodwill of the 
next Emperor, Claudius, by his love of dicing. But 
when sent out as governor of Africa by Nero he 
too, like other Roman nobles of the time, left his 
worst qualities behind him in Rome, and displayed 
integrity and justice in his administration, so that 
at the last crisis of his life only Africa showed any 
zeal on his behalf. He had returned from Africa 
in a.d. 61, and lived the next seven years, it seems, 
in obscure retirement at Rome. Either his 
integrity as governor or his gluttony, which was 
notorious, reduced him to such straits of poverty 
that when Galba commanded him to proceed as 
governor to Lower Germany in the autumn of a.d. 
68 he left his family behind him living in a hired 
garret, and pawned his mother's earrings to obtain 
the money necessary for his travelling expenses. 
By such means he was able to reach his province 
on the ist of December of this year. 

Both new governors found their troops sullen 
and disloyal to Galba. The attempt of the army 
of Upper Germany to proclaim Verginius Emperor 
had recently been baffled first by his refusal, and, 
soon after, by his recall to Rome. But they loved 
Galba none the better for that. Galba had recently 
been lavishing favour on the Gauls, rebels to the 
Empire, whom they, true soldiers of the Empire, 
had lately crushed. Galba was but the nominee 
of the troops in Spain, troops whom they, the proud 


and warlike frontier army of Germany, could have 
annihilated with ease. Neither governor was a 
disciplinarian ; neither was attached to Galba by 
any ties of affection or loyalty. The troops' dis- 
content was not long in coming to a head. The 
legions of Upper Germany refused the military 
oath of allegiance to Galba on the ist of January 
a.d. 69, and in default for the moment of a rival - 
Emperor they proclaimed as rulers of the State the 
Senate and People of Rome. But Republicanism 
had never any real influence in the Roman army 
after the days of Sulla a century and a half ago. 
The legions of Upper Germany had not long to 
wait before they found a new Emperor. Next day 
their comrades in Lower Germany, who the day 
before had taken the oath of allegiance to Galba 
with very bad grace, renounced it, and proclaimed 
their governor, Vitellius, Emperor at Cologne. 
The army of Upper Germany at once accepted him, 
and followed the example on January 3. Vitellius 
for his part was far too slothful and too flattered 
to resist the dangerous honour. Two men, each 
of them in command of a legion, both of great 
influence with the armies, found it an easy task to 
persuade him. Fabius Valens, of Anagni, legate Anagnia. 
of the First legion in Lower Germany, was an able 
general who had won Nero's favour by doubtful 
means and his troops' admiration by soldierly 
qualities. 1 Aulus Caecina Alienus of Vicenza, also Vicetia. 
legionary legate in Upper Germany, was a younger 
man and the darling of the troops. Handsome, 

1 Valens, cf. Tac. i. 52, iii. 62 ; Plutarch, Galba, 10. 


tall, and energetic, he was also to show true 
military qualities of daring and resource. He had 
at first, when quaestor of the province of Baetica in 
Spain, been a partisan of Galba, until his friendship 
was changed to enmity when Galba ordered his 
prosecution for embezzlement. 1 These two men, 
Valens in the Lower Province, Caecina in the 
Upper, worked hard to secure the proclamation of 
Vitellius by the troops. By the 3rd of January 
their object was won. The army of Germany was 
united in its declaration. Vitellius was named 
Emperor, and open defiance hurled in Galba's 

When in a few days news of this reached Rome 
the old Emperor affected to make light of it. But 
it finally determined him to take a step which he 
had for some time past been meditating, and to 
associate with himself a younger man as colleague 
in the Empire. There was both good precedent 
for the plan and also every hope of strengthening 
his own position thereby, had he chosen his 
colleague wisely. Unhappily for himself, Galba 
made a foolish choice, and paid for it in a week 
with his life. 

The man whom he presented to the troops and 
to the Senate as his comrade henceforward in the 
Iburdens of Empire came of an honourable but 
unlucky family. Lucius Calpurnius Piso was by 
now thirty years of age. Two of his elder brothers 
he had already seen slain — the one by Claudius, . 

1 Caecina, cf. Tac. i. 53, iii. S : "privala mala reipublicae malis operire 


the other by Nero. He himself had lived long in 
exile, and was equally without experience of civil 
administration or military service. Staid, sedate, 
melancholy, he was a man on whose honour the old 
Emperor could rely for sober counsel and loyal 
support. But he was not a man to gain the 
devotion of the Guards or fascinate the populace. 
And even on the very day of his adoption by the 
Emperor, when the greedy Praetorians might not 
unreasonably have received the donative customary 
on any such occasion, Galba's old-fashioned thrift 
conceded nothing. His maxim, that it was his 
wont to choose his soldiers and not to purchase 
them, was worthy of an ancient Roman, but won 
small sympathy from the Praetorians of his day. 
Piso's adoption by Galba on the 10th of January 
a.d. 69 was received sullenly by the troops in 
Rome — men soon so resolute to fight and quick to 
follow a general whom they knew and loved, but 
impatient of control and resentful of what they 
deemed neglect. Civil war was already threatening,! 1 
and military discipline is the first virtue to fly at its- 

The discontent of the Guards was all the more 
dangerous because it quickly found a leader, in 
whose heart anger at Galba's choice of Piso burned 
all the more deeply because he himself had expected 
to be chosen. And indeed Marcus Salvius Otho, 
of Ferento in South Etruria, 1 had some reason to 
indulge in his hopes, now disappointed. 

1 In Tac. ii. 50, Ferentio must be read instead of Ferentino. Cf. Suetonius, 
Otho, I. 


Otho is one of those perplexing figures in 
history whom it is very easy to condemn and very 
hard to dislike. His wayward brilliance and calm 
courage, his strong affections and the gentleness 
and mercy which he showed when Emperor even 
to his enemies, were qualities which endear him to 
the memory of following ages as they won for him 
the praise and the love of the Romans of his own 
day. Yet his youth had been stained by vice, 
luxury, and immodesty, and he gained his power by 
base treachery and murder. But the men of his 
own day judged these faults of character the more 
leniently as they were the more familiar with them 
in men who had none of Otho's charm to com- 
pensate. As Nero had won men's approval, so did 
Otho also, and when the careless Roman mob nick- 
named him Nero, Otho gladly accepted the name at 
their hands. 

Now in these early days of January Otho had 
counted on Galba's choice falling on himself. He 
had done good service to the Emperor in Spain. 
For Nero had determined to take Otho's beautiful 
wife Poppaea for his own, and to secure this end 
had banished the husband to honourable yet real 
exile as governor of Lusitania, the modern Portugal, 
- in a.d. 58. Here he had of necessity stayed ten 
years, surprising all who had known his dissolute 
life in Rome by his suavity and uprightness, when 
once removed from the accursed atmosphere of the 
Court at Rome. But he never forgave Nero for 
Poppaea's loss, and it was one of his earliest acts as 
Emperor to set up again the statues of her which 


the mob had overthrown. Hence when Galba had 
meditated treason, Otho had urged him on. At his 
side he had come to Rome. Presently in his place 
he had hoped to reign. Now he suddenly found a 
younger, untried, and unpopular man preferred 
before him. 1 

It was an age when few men in high places - 
acted on any principles save those of personal 
ambition ; when safety was sought in treachery ; 
when treason was the speediest refuge in distress. 
Five days' plotting followed. Then on the morning 
of January 15, Otho left the side of the old 
Emperor Galba as he stood sacrificing — " impor- 
tuning the Gods now of another man's Empire" 2 — 
and, muttering some lying excuse, hurried to the 
Praetorians' Camp, which lay by the city wall a 
short distance away. 

A handful of troops acclaimed him Emperor.- 
Galba and Piso, lured down to the forum from the 
height of the Palatine, were abandoned by an 
indifferent mob and treacherous soldiers to their I 
fate, and Otho reigned sole Emperor of Rome. 
Fourteen days before, the army of Germany had 
proclaimed Vitellius Emperor. The rivals must 
meet in open war. All embassies passing between 
the two were useless, for neither would yield place 
to the other. Galba had been treacherously slain. 
But open war should decide between Otho and 

1 For the Nero-Otho-Poppaea story and its different versions see my Life 
and Principate of the Emperor Nero, pp. 1 1 6- 1 17, 467. 

2 Savile's translation of Tac. i. 29. 


§ 2. The Troops Engaged 

Civil war between Otho and Vitellius, the first 
of the three great wars of these years a.d. 69 and 
70, was thus imminent in the month of January in 
the former year. The various parts of the whole 
Roman Empire would have to choose sides. Some 
of the provinces, however, were " unarmed," that 
is, possessed no regular troops in them, and their 
goodwill or hostility therefore counted for little in a 
struggle which only the sword could decide. For 
at this time the Roman army, apart from the garrison 
of Rome, was for the most part distributed along 
the frontiers of the Roman Empire, and the provinces 
within those frontiers enjoyed security without the 
presence of troops. Even of the frontier provinces 
some were garrisoned only by local auxiliary troops, 
and their contribution to the military strength of 
either side could be but trifling, while their 
sympathies were determined by the wishes of a 
neighbouring province of which Roman legionaries 
formed the garrison. 

The Roman army at this time consisted of thirty 
legions, and a force of " auxiliaries " which probably 
equalled in strength that of the legions. 1 The 
legionaries, all of whom were Roman citizens, may 
have numbered upward of a hundred and fifty 
thousand men. All of them were men who had 
made the practice of arms their profession ; all 

1 This is generally assumed, and is a conclusion based on Tacitus [Annals, 
iv. 5, and Histories, v. I) ; but though the numbers and names of a vast 
number of auxiliary alae and cohortes are now known, it is quite impossible 
to supply any more precise data of their total strength. 


of them were heavy-armed ; most of them were 
disciplined and efficient. Each legion bore a 
number, and almost always a distinctive title ; and 
in some of the legions regimental pride and 
loyalty were strong inducements to valour. The 
legionary cavalry, however, were few in number, 
and the bulk of the horse, as well as considerable 
numbers of infantry, mostly light - armed, were 
supplied by the auxiliaries. These were organised 
corps, known as alae (of cavalry) and cohortes 
(both infantry and cavalry, or infantry only), usually 
marked by a number and a special name. The 
name was sometimes derived from the man who 
first enrolled the corps, sometimes from the nation- 
ality of the troops who composed it, sometimes 
from the particular equipment which distinguished 
it from other troops. These special corps were 
either five hundred or a thousand strong. The 
auxiliaries for the most part were at this time not 
Roman citizens, but earned the citizenship by 
twenty-five or more years' service, and were granted 
it by the Emperor on their discharge. Legionaries 
served twenty years with the colours, but after that 
term of service many continued in the army, being 
formed into special cohortes veteranorum. 

The Roman military system was thus a long- 
service system. And although a legion or auxiliary 
corps was always liable for service in any part of 
the known world, there had been developing since 
the beginnings of the Empire a tendency to keep 
the same troops in the same province for years 
together, and to recruit the legions on the spot. 



The legions were established in more or less per- 
manent camps, and while these " castra stativa " 
served as headquarters for the troops, in course of 
time civil settlements of veterans, with their wives 
and families, and of traders, began to cluster round 
the military lines. Thus the children of the legion- 
aries grew up in close touch with the legions, and 
the children of the auxiliaries in like manner would 
be able and inclined to take service in the legions, 
for which service they were duly qualified as soon 
as their fathers had received the Roman citizenship 
on their discharge. The problem of recruiting 
became an easy one, and the Roman army was in 
truth a voluntary army, although the old civic 
liability on every citizen to be called out to war was 
never formally abolished. Always every citizen 
must be ready and able to fight for his country 
if need arose. But since the days of Marius the 
Roman army was never the " Nation in arms," 
except in theory. In compensation for this, the 
experience and courage of the legionaries were alike 
notable, and the numbers of the army, though 
small, were adequate for all the work, defensive and 
offensive, which it was from time to time called on 
to perform. Military service on the whole was 
popular. The troops were well cared for during 
service, and a system of pensions provided comfort 
for them in their old age. The permanent camps 
upon the frontiers were centres of Romanisation 
and civilisation just where such were most needed, 
namely, on the outskirts of Empire, where Rome 
came into contact with still uncivilised and savage 


tribes. The camps guarded the frontiers, proved 
the beginnings of towns later to be famous, and 
were places of refuge when the unquiet natives 
threatened war. And the steady growth in the 
number of Roman citizens during the first two 
centuries of the Empire, with all that this implied 
in the feeling of pride, responsibility, and dignity, 
on part of the individual, was due chiefly to the 
Roman military system as established by the first 
and greatest of the Emperors, Augustus. 

Upon this system, now comfortably practised 
for half a century, and upon this Roman army dis- 
tributed for the most part in cantonments along the 
frontiers of the Empire, there broke the storm of 
civil war. Then was shown the one great blemish 
of the system ; for it could not but stimulate the 
growth of local sympathy in the various frontier 
armies at the expense of their loyalty to the Empire 
as a whole and to the Emperor at Rome. This 
danger was less ominous so long as the Emperor 
was known through the Roman world either to be, 
like Tiberius, a soldier himself, of tried military 
capacity, or to be one who, like Claudius, would 
always put himself at. the head of his troops — at least 
at the end of a difficult or dangerous campaign. 
The danger was also less ominous if the governors 
of the frontier provinces were changed from time to 
time and not allowed protracted periods of com- 
mand. Nero had been the first Emperor to 
disregard both principles together. He had in 
consequence been deserted by the troops, and 
perished. The danger of local feeling, of local 


rivalries, in the frontier armies, became at once 
pronounced, and the length and bitterness of the 
civil wars of a.d. 69-70 were directly the result. And 
hence, when finally Vespasian won the victory, the 
interest taken both by him and by all his successors 
in the army and its welfare is very marked. Whether 
the Emperor were a man of war, like Domitian or 
the great Trajan, or a cultured gentleman and man 
of peace, like Hadrian or Antoninus Pius, or a 
veritable philosopher, like Marcus Aurelius, made 
no difference. He was bound to know his troops 
and to be known by them. 

The civil wars enforced this lesson of the Roman 
military system. They also emphasised another 
danger of the system which becomes clear in the 
great native rebellion on the Rhine towards their 
close, and will then be explained. But at the outset, 
when the Roman legionaries were called on to 
choose sides between Otho and Vitellius, there 
seemed no reason why they should hesitate to take 
up arms for the one or the other, according as their 
private interests or affections or passions should 
command. For eighteen months selfishness was 
lord paramount of most men in the Roman Empire. 

The Roman army was agreed on but two things: 
firstly, that it would not restore the Republican 
form of government ; secondly, that so splendid an 
opportunity for fighting and for plunder as had now 
arisen was not to be let go. In the course of the 
struggle the troops from time to time displayed 
courage to the point of heroism, and loyal affection 
for at least one of their generals to the degree of 


the very passion of love itself. Yet the main 
interests of the campaigns are strategical and 
military. They are no battle for Country or for 
Liberty when war is glorious, and to refrain from 
arms is contemptible. 

The Eastern provinces and their armies, Italy 
and the garrison of Rome, and the regular troops 
of the "Danube" frontier, were for the most part 
in sympathy with Otho ; the Western half of the 
Empire was with Vitellius. But some of the 
adherents on both sides were too far removed 
from the scene of conflict to take an active part 
in it. 

The army of the Eastern frontier (including 
Egypt) consisted of eight legions. Three of these 
— the Fourth Scythica, Sixth Ferrata, and Twelfth 
Fulminata — were stationed in Syria. The governor 
of Syria at this time was Caius Licinius Mucianus, 
an able soldier and statesman, who had been ap- 
pointed to this duty by Nero in a.d. 67. Three 
more legions were still engaged in quelling the 
fierce rebellion of the Jews, which was to be 
ended by the fall of Jerusalem on September 2, 
a.d. 70. 1 These legions were the Fifth Mace- 
donia, the Tenth Fretensis, and the Fifteenth 
Apollinaris. Their general was Titus Flavius 
Vespasianus, at this time a man of fifty-nine years 
of age. Vespasian was of humble origin, from a 
small hamlet near Rieti in the highlands of the Reate. 
Abruzzi in Central Italy, but of long and honour- 
able service and of proved military ability. In the 

1 For this Jewish war, see my Life and Principatt of Nero, chap. x. § 5. 


first conquest of Britain under Claudius he had 
subdued the Isle of Wight after many battles, and 
since then, after peaceful duty as governor of Africa, 
had been chosen by Nero to command in the Jewish 
war. A keen and active soldier, blunt, outspoken, 
hardy, thrifty, and temperate, a man possessing 
alike common sense and dry humour, Vespasian was 
reserved by the Fates to heal the wounds of the 
Roman Empire after the sore months of civil war 
were ended. But in January a.d. 69 he was still 
busily engaged with the war in Judaea, and not 
ready to make his bid for Empire. He had sent 
the elder of his two sons Titus and Domitian to 
carry his homage to Galba from the seat of war. 
But the news of Galba's death reached Titus when 
he arrived at Corinth on his voyage to Italy. Titus 
therefore returned from Greece to Syria, and both 
Vespasian and Mucianus with their respective 
armies swore fidelity to Otho. Finally, in Egypt 
there were two legions, the Third Cyrenaica and 
the Twenty-second Deiotariana. This restless, rich, 
and turbulent country was at this time happily con- 
trolled by a governor of striking ability, Tiberius 
Julius Alexander. He was a Jew by birth who 
had renounced Judaism, and after serving with 
Corbulo in the Armenian war had been made 
Prefect of Egypt by Nero in a.d. 63, and continued 
in that office under Galba. A long edict by him is 
still preserved, checking the extortion of officials 
and the greedy activity of professional informers. 
Under his direction Egypt and its army were well 
disposed to Otho. Subsequently he acted as chief 


of staff to Titus in the Jewish war, with zeal and 

The eight legions in the East took no part in 
the civil war between Otho and Vitellius, but their 
open sympathy with the former quickly bore fruit 
after the triumph of his rival. For the time being, 
however, " the East was undisturbed." l 

The Roman province of Africa had lately been 
greatly disturbed by the foolish ambition of the 
legate of the one legion, the Third Augusta, which 
at this time occupied the military district of Numidia 
(which for administration counted as part of Africa). 
This man, Lucius Clodius Macer, had revolted 
against Nero and posed falsely as a Republican 
enthusiast, when in reality he was seeking his own 
selfish ends. Galba had secured his death without 
difficulty, and thereupon the province was only too 
happy to be quiet, " being content with any kind of 
a Prince after its experience of a petty master." 
Following the lead of its chief town Carthage, it 
professed mild interest in Otho's cause. But its 
legion took no part in the war. 2 

If Otho was thus unable to use nine friendly 
legions in the East and South, Vitellius in like 
manner, though to a less degree, could not employ 
all the troops who wished well to his cause in the 

1 Position, etc., of the legions: Tac. i. 10; v. I. Mucianus : Pliny, 
Hist. Nat. xii. 9 ; xiii. 88 ; Tac. i. 76 ; ii. 5. Vespasian : Sueton. Vit. 
Vesp.; cf. Tac. i. 50; ii. 5, 6, 78; iv. v. passim. Titus: Tac. i. 10; ii. I, 
2. Egypt and Tib. Julius Alexander : Tac. i. 1 1 ; Ann. xv. 28 ; Josephus, 
Antiq. xx. 5. 2 ; Bell. Jud. ii. 15. 1 ; 18. 7, 8 ; Corpus Inscr. Graec. No. 

2 Africa : Tac. i. 11, 76, 78; Macer: Tac. i. 7; ii. 97; Plutarch, 
Galba, 6. 


In Britain there were now left three of the 
famous four legions which had "conquered" the 
island under Claudius and kept it for the Empire 
at the time of the furious rising of the natives led 
by Queen Boudicca (Boadicea) against Nero. These 
legions were the Second Augusta, Ninth Hispana, 
and Twentieth Valeria Victrix. Their old comrades 
of the Fourteenth Gemina had lately been trans- 
ferred to Dalmatia. The governor of Britain at 
the time of Galba's accession was Marcus Trebellius 
Maximus. But he incurred the displeasure of his 
troops, and the men of the Twentieth legion took 
upon themselves to turn him out of the country 
without more ado. In his absence the legates of the 
three legions administered the province, sharing the 
duties between them, until Vitellius after his victory 
sent out a new governor in the person of Marcus 
Vettius Bolanus. Separated by the sea from the 
rest of the Empire, and with trouble threatening 
from the tribesmen of Yorkshire and the north, the 
army of Britain displayed no lively interest in the 
opening stages of the civil wars. 1 

Spain was garrisoned by the two legions, the 
Sixth Victrix and the Tenth Gemina. Galba had 
been followed as governor of the district Tarracon- 
ensis by the historian Cluvius Rufus 2 ; and Otho, 
familiar with the land, and a fellow-courtier with 
Cluvius under Nero, had hoped to gain the support 
of the Spanish army and strengthen his position in 
Spain by favours bestowed on the province. New 

1 Britain : Tac. i. 9, 60 ; iii. 22 ; cf. my Life of Nero, chap. vi. 
2 Clu%'ius Rufus : cf. my Life of Nero, p. 429. 


settlers were sent by him to the two colonies of 
Hispalis (Seville), in the province of Baetica in 
South Spain, and Augusta Emerita (Merida) in 
Lusitania (Portugal), and the Roman citizenship 
was probably bestowed by him on the Lusones, a 
Celtiberian tribe round the sources of the Tagus. 1 
Certain " towns of the Mauri " also, lying in the 
district of Mauretania, the other side of the Straits 
of Gibraltar, such as Tingi (Tangiers), were added 
by him to Baetica for administrative and revenue 
purposes. But neither the Spanish provinces nor 
the Spanish army nor Cluvius Rufus gave Otho 
any support. It may well be that the soldiers 
resented his murder of their former governor Galba. 
Indeed, when the procurator of Mauretania, one 
Lucceius Albinus, threatened Spain in Otho's 
interests, Rufus guarded the Straits and persuaded 
Albinus' army to murder their procurator. This, 
however, was the only service which the Spanish 
army rendered to Vitellius ; and later they aban- 
doned his cause when his doom was coming close. 2 

Of the thirty legions of the Roman army, four- 
teen, therefore, were not concerned with the war 
between Otho and Vitellius. The remaining sixteen 
were divided in allegiance. Seven legions in 
Germany and one in Gaul, on the one hand, formed 
Vitellius' army of invasion. On the other hand, 

1 Tac. i. 78, accepting the emendation " Lusonibus " for the text 
" Lingonibus " — as the sentence is sandwiched between two others, both of 
which refer to Otho's Spanish measures. Other suggestions are Ilurconibus 
(Ilurco = Pinos Puente in Baetica) and Lanciensibus, a Lusitanian folk 
mentioned in an inscription of A.D. 5. Cf. C.I.L. ii. 460. 

2 Otho's gifts to Spain : Tac. i. 7S. The legions, etc. : Tac. ii. 58 ; 
iii. 44 ; Albinus, ii. 58, 59. 



seven stalwart legions in the "Danube provinces" 
and one at Rome declared for Otho, who besides 
commanded the support of the garrison of Rome, 
the most famous regiments of " Guards." Four of 
the seven legions of the German army were sta- 
tioned in the Lower Province, three in the Upper ; 
all seven being on the left bank of the Rhine and 
in the immediate neighbourhood of the river. 
Nearest the sea the " Old Camp," Castra Vetera, 
served as the usual headquarters for two legions, 
the Fifth Alaudae and the Fifteenth Primigenia. 
The First legion was probably encamped at Bonn, 
near the southern frontier of the province, and be- 
tween these two camps the Sixteenth legion lay 
at Novaesium. In Upper Germany Mainz supplied 
a double camp for the two legions, the Fourth 
Macedonica and Twenty-second Primigenia, while 
the Twenty-first Rapax was stationed at Vindonissa, 
east of the great northward bend of the Rhine. 1 
The four Gallic provinces — Belgica on the north, 
Lugdunensis in the centre, Aquitania on the south- 
west, and Narbonensis on the south-east — were 
sufficiently guarded against the barbarians by the 
powerful garrison in the two Germanies on the 
Rhine, and only the city of Lugdunum itself at the 
meeting-place of the Rhone and Saone was guarded 

1 It must be remembered that some of the evidence for these places as 
headquarters for these legions belongs to the year 70. But in the absence of 
contrary evidence we may suppose it to be true of the year before. The 
evidence is, for Leg. I. : Tac. i. 57 ; iv. 25 ; V. and XV. : ibid. iv. 22, 35 ; 
XVI. : ibid. iv. 26, 61; IV. and XXII.: ibid. i. 55; iv. 24, 25; XXL: 
ibid. i. 61 ; iv. 61, 70. Throughout I use the more familiar name of the 
place, whether ancient or modern, placing its modern or ancient equivalent 
in the margin. 


by troops. Here in the most important city of the 
whole land were stationed the First Italica legion ; 
an auxiliary cavalry regiment, the ala Tauriana, 
so called from the name of Statilius Taurus, who 
first enlisted it ; and the eighteenth cohort of the 
Guards. 1 The town and garrison of Lugdunum 
embraced eagerly the cause of Vitellius. Twenty 
miles down the Rhone, nestling, like its enemy, 
under precipitous heights, lay the hated city of 
Vienne, and never did bitterness felt by one little 
Greek city-state for a neighbour exceed that anger 
which Lugdunum cherished against Vienne, both 
towns though they were of the Empire. This hos- 
tility was doubtless partly due to tribal feeling, 
partly perhaps to the very Greek element persisting 
in the valley of the Rhone. And it is curious to 
reflect that just as Lugdunum was the new proud 
centre for the great political institution of Caesar- 
worship, so it was at Vienne that Christianity, the 
foe of, and at last the victor over, the Imperial cult, 
had its chief beginnings in the West. During the 
recent revolt of Vindex and his Gauls, Vienne had 
been enthusiastic for the national cause ; Lugdunum 
had triumphed over her when the Roman legions 
of Germany crushed the national rising. 2 Yet 
Galba, Emperor of Rome, had shown favour to 
Vienne ; and Otho had actually named as consul 
one of her citizens. Lugdunum would never for- 
give this injustice, nor forget the slight put upon 

1 See below for this cohort. Evidence for the garrison of Lugdunum, 
Tac. i. 59, 64. 

2 For Lugdunum v. Vienne in the revolt of Vindex see my Life of Nero, 
chap. xi. § 5 ; Otho and Gaul, Tac. i. 76, 77. 


her loyalty. Old ally of the Roman legions of 
Germany, she welcomed the day when Vitellius' 
troops marched down stream to take vengeance, 
she hoped, upon her enemies and those of Rome, 
as well as on his own. 

The military camp of Vindonissa was but a few 
miles from the eastern border of Roman Germany. 
The point where the Rhine flowed out of Lake 
Constance marked the beginning of that district, 
and the river formed its frontier from the lake to 
the sea. A few miles north of that camp there rose 
in the recesses of the Black Forest a far mightier 
and more wonderful river, the course of which from 
its source to its outflow into the Black Sea traced for 
many years the northern limit of the Roman advance 
into the heart of Europe. Along its southern bank 
the Romans made four districts. Raetia, the most 
westerly, stretched from the frontier of Upper 
Germany at Lake Constance, and south of this from 
the land of the Helvetii and the Lake of Geneva, to 
the valley of the lower Inn and the point where this 
muddy, rushing river joins its waters to the cool, 
clear, beautiful stream of the Danube at Passau. 
From this point Noricum reached well-nigh as far 
as Vienna, to be succeeded by the province of 
Pannonia, whose northern and eastern boundaries 
alike were formed by the Danube. The issue of 
the river Save from the west into this river at 
Belgrade was the beginning of the province of 
Moesia, which stretched all the many hundred 
miles from this point along the southern bank to 
the sea. 


As the Danube far excels the Rhine in power, 
so did the native tribes north of the river surpass 
those beyond the Rhine in restlessness and terror. 
If the " Army of the Danube " in the middle of the 
century was slightly inferior in numbers to the 
troops who guarded the line of the Rhine, this was 
due to the fact that the greater danger which 
threatened the Roman peace from the trans-Dan- 
ubian peoples seemed less imminent during the 
first half of the first century, and came to be realised 
more and more vividly only towards its close. None 
the less there were already seven legions appointed 
to form this army. In Raetia and Noricum no 
legionaries were stationed. Just as in earlier days 
the master of an army in Cisalpine Gaul between 
the Alps and the Rubicon had held the key to Italy 
in his grasp, so now when Italy reached as one 
country to the Alpine chain the governor of the 
district of Raetia, which commanded all the northern 
passes over the mountains, would have had Italy 
and the Emperor of Rome too directly and immedi- 
ately at his mercy, had he been placed in control of 
a legionary army. Raetia, therefore, was but a 
minor command under control of a procurator, and 
his only troops were such native levies as he could 
raise in the case of any sudden peril. If a serious 
danger threatened the Raetian frontier, the governor 
of Upper Germany must see to it. In the same 
way, Noricum was administered by a procurator 
only, who depended for his protection ultimately 
on the legions in the province of Pannonia on 
his eastern border. The great frontier commands 


were those of Pannonia and Moesia. In Pannonia, 
in January a.d. 69, were two legions — the Seventh 
Galbiana and Thirteenth Gemina; in Moesia three 
— the Third Gallica, which had newly come to the 
province from Syria, the Seventh Claudia, and the 
Eighth Augusta ; and as a great reserve force to 
the army of the Danube, two legions kept the 
province of Dalmatia — the Eleventh Claudia, and 
the most famous of the legions of the war in Britain, 
the Fourteenth Gemina. This province of Dal- 
matia extended all down the eastern shore of the 
Adriatic Sea, from the promontory of I stria on the 
north to the Macedonian frontier by Lissus on the 
south. Thus its army acted as a great rearguard 
alike to the troops in Pannonia on the north and to 
those in Moesia on the east. And its two legions 
are justly counted as part of the Army of the 
Danube. 1 

These legions of Dalmatia, Pannonia, and Moesia 
duly swore allegiance to Otho in the early part of 
the year a.d. 69. They were too widely separated 
from one another to be likely eagerly to act in 
concert on behalf of some nominee of their own. 2 
Moreover, Otho was the emperor accepted by the 
Senate and People of Rome, ruling from the city of 
Rome, which was the very "head of the Empire 
and glory of all the provinces," 3 and there was no 

1 Legions in Pannonia: Tac. ii. II, 86; in Moesia, i. 79; ii. 85; iii. 
24; C.I.L. iii. 2715; in Dalmatia, ii. 11. For the Fourteenth legion 
in Britain see my Life of Nero, pp. 200, 211 so. For VII. Galbiana (later 
Gemina) see note to p. 6, above. 

2 Cf. Tac. i. 9 : " Longis spatiis discreti exercitus, quod saluberrimum 
est ad continendam militarem fidem." 

3 "Caput imperii et decora omnium provinciarum," i. 84. 


reason why they should love the rival set up by the 
rebellious army of Germany. The appreciation 
of Otho, however, was of a slightly passive nature, 
save in the case of the legion from Britain, the 
Fourteenth, which was enthusiastic on his behalf. 1 
Moreover, the governor of Moesia, Marcus Aponius, 
and his troops had suddenly in the spring of this 
year a task imposed upon them which left them 
small leisure for pondering over Otho's virtues. 
Already, in the winter, the Roxolani, a tribe 
belonging to the wild Sarmatian hordes of Eastern 
Europe, had raided across the frontier and cut to 
pieces two cohorts of auxiliaries. And now in the 
early spring they repeated their attack, encouraged 
by the rumours of civil war among their foes which 
had rapidly spread to them. Nine thousand horse- 
men clad in chain armour or leathern jerkins crossed 
the Danube to plunder. Then the Third legion, 
with auxiliaries to help them, did good work for 
Rome. On a February day, when the deep snows 
of winter were melting and rain was falling, when 
the rude tracks were well-nigh impassable, and 
horses could scarcely keep their feet, the Roman 
infantry fell unexpectedly upon the straggling and 
unsuspecting foe, and had them at their mercy. 
They were unable to ride away ; they were hurled 
from their horses or pierced by the Roman javelin ; 
they lay prostrate in the watery snow, and were 
unable to struggle to their feet for the weight of 
their armour ; their pikes, their long swords, need- 
ing two hands to wield, were useless ; shields they 

1 Tac. ii. 11. 


had none, nor any courage to defend themselves 
on foot against the exultant legionary and his 
native ally. They put their trust in their horses, 
and they were destroyed with an utter destruc- 
tion by the short stabbing-blade of the Roman. 
Only a handful of the raiders escaped to lurk 
in the marshes, there miserably to die of cold or 
wounds. 1 

Otho gladly seized the chance given him by the 
annihilation of the Sarmatians to reward the governor 
of Moesia and the legates of all three legions, 
though only one of the three had won the victory. 
But it was no time for making distinctions and 
exciting jealousies. It was for him to gain the 
goodwill of all the officers. And the Danube army 
might reasonably now be proud of, and loyal to, an 
Emperor on whose brief annals they had been the 
first to inscribe deeds worthy of remembrance. 
With this intent, Otho celebrated their prowess and 
published it abroad in Rome. And the seven 
legions of the Army of the Danube were true to 
him to the day of his death. 

There remained the garrison of Rome itself, 
which was devoted to his cause, and such other 
troops as were to be found in Italy. In Rome itself 
at this time a large body of troops was gathered 
together. Foremost among these were the soldiers 
who formed the regular garrison of the city — nine 
cohorts of Praetorian Guards, and seven cohorts of 

1 Tac. i. 79. Cf. the "Ob Laurum," ap. Acta fratrum Arvalium for 
March 1. For earlier relations with the Roxolani under Nero, cf. C.I.L. 
xiv. 360S, and my Life of Nero, p. 225. 


Urban Guards. The strength of a cohort was one 
thousand men. The Praetorians, the only troops 
whom Italy contributed regularly to the Imperial 
forces, were the very flower of the Roman army. 
All had volunteered for the service, which lasted 
for them only sixteen years, and was rewarded by 
higher pay than that which the legionary received. 
They were commanded by two Prefects, men speci- 
ally chosen by the Emperor out of the staff of his 
own Civil Service, and this Prefecture formed the 
crown of the Service. The seven Urban cohorts 
were men well trained and fought well, but they 
were held in less repute than the " Guards " proper. 
In these sixteen cohorts Otho had a force of sixteen 
thousand men, the most famous regiments in the 
army, and all enthusiastic for a Prince to whom 
they had given the power. 

Besides these, there was then at Rome the First 
Adjutrix legion, newly levied by Nero from the 
sailors of the fleet, and recently given its legionary 
" eagle," the ensign and emblem of due enrolment, 
by Galba. But on their entry into Rome Galba's 
troops had hewn down many of these legionaries, 
who had poured out of the city somewhat turbu- 
lently to greet the new Emperor and clamour for 
their " eagle." Hence he had been frightened, 
and had given orders to slay. The sole tradition, 
therefore, of the new regiment was one of hatred 
for the dead Prince, and it could be trusted to serve 
his slayer well. Moreover, its spurs were yet to 
win, and the men were not unmindful of this when 
a few months later they stood face to face in their 



first battle with a veteran regiment of the German 

Besides the Guards and this legion there also 
chanced to be in Rome detachments of troops 
properly belonging to the armies of Britain, Ger- 
many, and the Danube. For just before his death 
Nero had summoned these " vexilla " and " numeri " 
to Italy when he was making preparations for an 
expedition against the Alans in the Caucasus. The 
revolt of Vindex had caused him to call these forces 
hurriedly to Rome, where they remained, it seems, 
after his death and during the short Principate of 

Finally, there was one cohort, the Seventeenth, 
in garrison at Ostia 1 ; and upon the river Po, 
whither the storm-clouds of invasion were sweeping, 
one auxiliary squadron of horse, nine hundred and 
sixty strong, the ala Siliana, was stationed. Nero 
had called it to Italy from Egypt on the news of 
Vindex's revolt, and sent it north to guard the line 
of the river. 2 

These then were the troops which might be 
counted on by both sides as able to take part in the 
coming civil war : — 

1 The Cohortes XVII. and XVIII. are counted on from the Urban 
Cohorts (Coh. X.-XVI.), just as these are counted on from the Praetorian 
(Coh. I. -IX.). Under Tiberius, Cohors XVII. is in garrison at Lugdunum 
"ad monetam" (Tac. Ann. iii. 41 ; C.I.L. xiii. 1499; Tac. Hist. i. 80). 
But as in a.d. 69 it is found at Ostia, it is probable that Nero recalled it 
from Lugdunum and sent it there, placing Cohors XVIII. at Lugdunum 
instead. Cf. Hirschfeld, ap. C.I.L. xiii. p. 250. 

For Leg. I. Adjutrix and the garrison of Rome, cf. Tac. i. 6, 31 ; ii. n. 
The Caspian expeditionary troops, cf. my Life of 'Nero, p. 227, and references 
in note. 

2 The ala Siliana, so called from C. Silius, legate of Upper Germany under 
Tiberius. Tac. Ann. i. 31 ; Hist. i. 70. 


(1) On the Vitellian side: 

Legio I. in Lower Germany, at Bonn 

Legio V. Alaudae ,, ,, at Castra Vetera 

Legio XV. Primigenia „ „ „ 

Legio XVI. „ „ at Novaesium 

Legio IV. Macedonica, in Upper Germany, at Mainz 
Legio XXII. Primigenia ,, „ „ 

Legio XXI. Rapax „ „ at Vindonissa 

Legio I. Italica in Gaul at Lugdunum 

Ala Tauriana ,, „ 

Cohors XVIII. 
and an indeterminate but large number of auxiliaries, horse and 
foot, besides such irregulars, native levies, etc., as could be 

(2) On the Othonian side: 

Legio VII. Galbiana, in Pannonia 

Legio XIII. Gemina „ 

Legio III. Gallica, in Moesia 

Legio VII. Claudia „ 

Legio VIII. Augusta „ 

Legio XL Claudia, in Dalmatia 

Legio XIV. Gemina „ 

Legio I. Adjutrix in Rome 

Cohortes I.-IX. (Praetorian) „ 

Cohortes X.-XVI. (Urban) 

Cohors XVII. at Ostia 

Ala Siliana in Upper Italy 
and an indeterminate but large number of auxiliaries, horse and 
foot, besides such irregulars, native levies, etc., or gladiators 
from the schools at Rome, as could be enlisted. 

The struggle, therefore, seemed likely to be one 
between the troops in Germany and Gau l on the 
l '"t>he'side, and those of Italy and the Danube pro- 
vinces on the other. In this reckoning each of the 
rivals could employ eight legions. 


Vitellius' army numbered over a hundred thou- 
sand men of all arms. When he moved on Italy, 
his two advance columns consisted, the one of forty 
thousand, the other of thirty thousand men, when 
they left the Rhine, and the column which marched 
through Gaul continually gathered in fresh troops 
from the country. Vitellius himself followed later 
with the rest of his available strength, and he too 
received reinforcements on the march, as by this 
time the army in Britain found itself able to con- 
tribute to his forces. Only a few men were left 
behind under Hordeonius Flaccus to garrison the 
bank of the Rhine against the peril from the natives 
over the river, who happily for the time remained 
quiet. 1 

To resist this attack, Otho had two armies to 
put into the field. At Rome his army cannot have 
largely exceeded twenty - five thousand men in 
number, though the majority of these were excellent 
soldiers. But in the Danube provinces his troops, 
when and if concentrated into a single striking 
force, would scarcely be inferior to the German 
army in number. The Emperor could reckon them 
as at least upwards of seventy thousand men of all 

In actual numbers, as also in the probable quality 
of the soldiers, Otho was thus not inferior to 
Vitellius. But one great difference in his situation 

1 Tac. ii. 57- The numbers of the columns of Caecina and Valens are 
given precisely by Tacitus ; but Vitellius himself is described as to follow 
"tota mole belli," i. 6i. If we insisted on this very vague and worthless 
phrase, we might increase Vitellius' available numbers to 150,000 men. But 
the lower total seems to me the more probable. 


became clear at once. The Army of Germany was 
more easily concentrated, more easily set in motion 
under one command. His own troops consisted of 
two widely separated armies — the smaller Army of 
Italy, the larger Army of the Danube. But this last 
army also was far from being concentrated. The 
obvious base for its military operations, and there- 
fore its place of muster, was Aquileia, the town look-j 
ing due southwards over the Adriatic. Aquileia is 
to-day a petty village in the marshes, some fifty-five 
miles north-east of Venice. But in Roman days, 
when Venice did not exist, it was the most 
important military stronghold on the Italian north- 
eastern frontier, and the great military roads from 
the " Danube provinces," Dalmatia, Pannonia, and 
Moesia, first converged upon it. The chief military 
centre of Pannonia, the town of Poetovio, lay a 
hundred and fifty miles to the east of it ; the chief 
town of Moesia, Naissus, some four hundred miles 
beyond Poetovio, and from Scodra, chief town of 
Dalmatia, to Aquileia direct was also four hundred 
miles. There is no evidence of the actual position 
of the legions of the three provinces in January 
a.d. 69. But it was evident that to muster the 
whole, or even a considerable part of, the Army 
of the Danube at Aquileia would require much, 
organisation, and take probably a longer time than 
was needed for the mobilisation of the German 
army within striking distance of Italy. Although) 
Otho sent orders at once to the nearest legions, 
those of Pannonia and Dalmatia, to march on Italy, 
yet the enemy possessed the great initial advantage j 


of a concentrated over a dispersed army. The very- 
force of circumstances therefore dictated the initial 

. strategy of the coming campaign. The strategic 

— > initiative rested with the Vitellians. It was not 

only because Otho was actual Emperor of Rome 

land Vitellius challenged his right to rule, that the 
Army of Germany had to attack. Before a soldier 
left camp, the strategy of offence and invasion was 
clearly marked out for the Vitellians by the position 
of the opposed armies and their numbers. When 

— Otho's scattered armies were united, it might well 
be that they would prove more than equal to 
Vitellius' troops. But at the outset there existed 

— great gaps between the dispersed fragments of the 
Othonians. While they were mustering, Vitellius 
must strike. Possibly even he might have the 
opportunity to penetrate between the foe's divided 

f forces. This " strategy of penetration " gives the 
chance of dividing up and defeating the enemy in 
detail. It has risks and obvious perils of its own, 
and all its success depends upon careful timing. 
But at the outset it was clear to all concerned that 
circumstances and numbers dictated to the Vitellians 
the strategy of offence and the invasion of Italy. 
They possessed the strategical initiative. 


§ 3. The Strategical Aspect of the Opening 

The Ar my of Inva sion had two ultimate bases of 
operation. These may be taken to be Cologne for 
the force in Lower Germany, and Vindonissa for 


that in Upper Germany. The objective of both 
forces was the enemy's army, which must be j 
destroyed. That army was not likely to be met 
north of the Alps, nor indeed north of the Po, for 
reasons partly of time, partly of strategy, which 
were obvious to both sides. 1 The theatre of war 
was likely to be the great plain of this river, that i 
plain which has been the scene of more fighting I 
in the course of history than even have the Low 
Countries. The immediate geographical objective, 
therefore, of the Army of Invasion was the section i 
of the Po between Placentia on the west and 
Hostilia on the east. At the former place was the 
crossing of the river by the great highway which 
led south-east, skirting the Apennines, to Ariminum 
and so to Rome ; and this road would have to be 
pursued by a force crossing any of the Alpine 
passes on the west and north-west of Italy. And 
at Hostilia was the second chief crossing of the 
river by the road which ran from Verona on the 
north to join the great highway at Bologna, fifty Bononia. 
miles to the south ; and by this road an army 
marching by any of the northern passes down on 
Italy would have to come. 

It was therefore necessary for the Army of I 
Germany to cross the Alps as speedily as possible. I 
The natural difficulties of the passage of the moun- 
tains in early spring by a large force, as well as the 
problem of supplies, made it expedient for the 
Vitellians to divide their army. Moreover, it was 

1 I postpone the explanation of these to the paragraphs dealing with the 
strategical position of the Othonians. 



important to secure Gaul, as this country lay on 
the flank and in rear of the advance, and further to 
increase the numbers of the invading army by 
Gallic reinforcements swept in during the forward 
movement. But if the whole army marched 
through Gaul and over one of the western passes, 
the delay caused by the long detour might well 
imperil the success of the whole campaign. There- 
fore it was decided that the Army of Germany 
should remain divided, and that two columns of 
invasion should march at once. The Vindonissa 
column was to proceed direct from Upper Germany 
to Italy; the Cologne column, as it may be called, 
was to march through Gaul, and strike thence east- 
wards over one of the western passes of the Alps. 
The distance to be marched by the Cologne column 
was nearly three times as great as tKaTof the other. 
It would arrive later at the objective, and there join 
the Vindonissa army, should the latter need help. 

The Arnry_jof Defence had also two ultimate 
bases of operation — Rome for the Army of Italy, and 
Aquileia for the Army of the Danube. Both of 
these were similarly many miles away from the 
river Po, and, besides this, the concentration of the 
whole or, at least, part of the Army of the Danube 
at Aquileia must firs t be effected. A diagram may 
serve to illustrate the strategical position at the 
beginning of the campaign. 1 

Although the distance from Rome to the ob- 

1 The diagram is drawn roughly to scale according to the distances which 
the troops marched by the ways they actually pursued, and these are the 
distances given in round numbers. 


jective was longer than that from Vindonissa, the 
time taken by an army marching from Rome would 
be much shorter, as the natural difficulties which 
hindered the pace of the Vindonissa column were 

1? Cologne 





\» jo Poetovio 

» rf\U e ?-" (Pannonia) 

2 5 mjJ£HAquileia 
Pi 3 r,»nf;^Objective-r^^-' 
-zrt. „ — 7-6^miles \HostUia \ 


o Scodra 

far greater, and, as it proved, these troops indulged 
in some petty fighting with the tribes north of the 
Alps before they set out resolutely on the road. 

A. Strategical Opportunities of the Othonians. — 
Until the Danube army arrived in North Italy to 
co-operate with them, Otho's troops in that country 


were so greatly inferior in numbers to the approach- 
ing invaders that their only possible strategy at 
first was a defensive one. It is true that such a 
strategy, unless it were unexpectedly crowned by a 
decisive victory on the field of battle, could never 
be expected to end the war. 

The records of warfare contain no instance, when two 
armies were of much the same quality, of the smaller army 
bringing the campaign to a decisive issue by defensive tactics. 
Wellington and Lee both fought many defensive battles with 
inferior forces. But neither of them under such conditions 
ever achieved the destruction of the enemy. They fought such 
battles to gain time, and their hopes soared no higher. l 

Defence was forced upon the Army of Italy until 
their comrades should arrive, but only for so long. 
For defence pure and simple sometimes wins 
battles, but wars scarcely ever. 

It was therefore, above all, important to retard 
the advance of the Vitellians into Italy by every 
possible means. All Othonian efforts in Italy had 
to be directed at first to secure this end, and to 
give time for the Army of the Danube to arrive. 
The questions, therefore, which arose were two. 
Firstly, what precise line of defence should be 
chosen ? Secondly, what means of delaying the 
enemy's march could be employed ? 
(i) Line of (i) Two possible lines of defence suggest them- 


selves at once to a general who wishes to defend 
(a) The North Italy, namely, the Alps and the Po. 

But for Otho the blocking of the Alpine passes 
J was impossible. In the first place, had he even 

1 Stonewall Jackson, by Lieut. -Col. Henderson, vol. ii. p. 228. 


wished to block them, time, distance, and numbers i 
forbade this. Actually he had in North Italy in 
January a.d. 69 but one small regiment of horse, 
the ala Siliana, and this quickly turned traitor to 
his cause. The troops in Rome could scarcely 
reach the Alpine passes on the north and north- 
west before the troops of Upper Germany had/ 
seized them. And it would be madness for them 
to block the western passes, whither they might 
have arrived in time, when the foe advancing from 
the north would already be down in the plain of 
the Po. But even if the Vitellians delayed their 
approach, and thus gave Otho time to block the 
passes (and he could not count upon this for a 
moment), the Emperor was quite uncertain which 
route or routes his foe would choose. The Army 
of Italy, scarcely twenty-five thousand strong, would 
have been distributed along the chain of mountains 
in isolated, widely separated fragments. A reverse 
suffered in any single pass would snap at once 
the chain of resistance. The whole scheme of 
defence would have been destroyed, and the entire 
army would have been in danger of piecemeal 

In the next place, the proper method of defend- 
ing a mountain ridge is not the blocking of the 
passes, when several such passes over the ridge 
exist. To place a division sitting on top of each 
pass in entrenchments, however strong, is but to 
court disaster. No mountain barrier, whether 
Himalaya or Pyrenees, Jura or Alps, ought to be 
defended in this way, or ever has been for long 


successfully defended in this way. Picquets and 
outposts, varying in strength, must be placed in 
tne~ actual passes. But the main Army of Defence 

| /must be kept on the more level ground behind the 
'ridge, concentrated and as near to the issues of the 
passes as the nature of the ground allows. From 
such a position it can deal a vigorous blow at its 
foes when these, forcing back the outposts, struggle 
by one or more passes with difficulty over the 
mountains, and emerge more or less exhausted 

i upon the lower ground beyond. It is then that 
they must be attacked, before they have recovered 
from the stress of the passage of the heights, when 
a dangerous country lies immediately in their rear, 
and when, if they have chosen to cross by more 
passes than one, the detachments of their troops 
are perhaps separated by the difficult foothills of 
the mountain ridge. Then the Army of Defence, 
perfectly informed by its outposts of the advance 
of the enemy, with its communications from the 
flanks to the centre running easily over the more 
level country which the army occupies, can move 
to the attack with vigour unimpaired and confidence 
high, and by a tactical offensive give its strategical 
defensive the victory. Such was the strategy by 
which, for instance, the Argives ought to have 
defended their northern rampart of mountains 
against King Agis of Sparta in 418 B.C. Such is 
the strategy by which Italy to-day would defend 
her Alpine barrier against a foe to north or west 
of it. 

Unhappily, Otho had neither men enough nor 


time enough to choose this, which otherwise would 
have been the right, method of defending Italy. 
He was compelled to abandon all thought of hold- \ 
ing the line of the Alps. He could not prevent 
the enemy's columns, marching by widely different 
routes, from concentrating in the plain of the Po 
unhindered. In modern history, in the Napoleonic 
wars and in the fighting for the liberation of Italy, 
"the battles lost or won at the foot of the Alpine 
passes, and in the vineyards of the great northern 
plain, Rivoli, Marengo, Magenta, Solferino," * 
decided then too the fate of Tuscany, Rome, and 
the South. As Otho could not guard the foot of 
the passes, he must fall back upon the second 
natural line of defence — upon the river which flows : j 
through the great northern plain and its vineyards. 

This line could be more easily defended. To (^)ThePo. 
the west lay the great fortress of Placentia, south' 
of the river, placed upon the military road where 
it crossed the Po, and guarding the passage of 
the river. Placentia if garrisoned strongly and Piacenza. 
resolutely held would be an invaluable " pivot of 
manoeuvre " for Otho's defending army, which, I 
with its left flank secured by the fortress,, could 
deploy eastwards along the river in safety. V In the 
same way the crossing of the river to the east must | 
be secured and defended, and at the same time the 
communications with the Danube army at Aquileia 
must be kept open and safe from the enemy. A 

1 Trevelyan, Garibaldi's Defence of the Roman Republic, p. 45. 
C2±3* A ' pivot of manoeuvre ' is a force, fortress, or natural obstacle which 
secures a flank " (Henderson, Science of War, p. 64). 


i strong garrison at Verona or at Mantua would best 

i achieve this double object. It was vital to Otho to 

\ take precautions against the risk that the enemy 

would come down upon Italy by the Brenner Pass 

and seek to thrust in between his own army and 

that at Aquileia, severing the communications 

; between these. At least the Mantua-Hostilia line 

I must at all costs be stoutly defended. 

The Army of Italy, therefore, should be spread 
\ along the line of the river from Placentia to 
' Hostilia, with special concentration of strength at 
both ends of the line. And as at the western end 
the fortress in itself offered a means of strong 
defiance, the bulk of the defending forces must be 
directed to the eastern part of the line of defence. 

This line the Vitellians would doubtless assault 
with vigour. But it was unlikely that they would 
try to break it in the middle, at least at first, or 
that, if they tried, they would succeed in the 
attempt. The river here is wide and deep, with 
shifting sandbanks and dangerous eddies, and its 
current, swollen in spring, is impetuous. It was 
far more probable that they would attack one of 
' the two ends. A successful forcing of the eastern 
end would indeed be ominous of disaster for Otho. 
His army here must see to it that this did not 
/ happen. But the point of attack nearest to the 
most probable place of concentration for the 
-- Vitellians in North Italy was certainly Placentia. 
If then the enemy combined to assault this fortress, 
if they even forced the passage of the river here, 
then at once the advantage which Otho possessed 



in his double base of operations would come into \ 
play. For as the Vitellians advanced down the 
great road from Placentia, the Othonians defending 
the river could retire before them unhurt, and fall 
.. back upon their second base Aquileia. This would 
compel the enemy to choose one of two courses of 
action. They might either neglect this force or/ 
pursue after it. If they dared to neglect it, and to 
press on regardless down the great highway for 
Rome, by so doing they would expose their own/ 
line of communications defenceless to the force at 
Aquileia. This then, strengthened by the arrival-*/ 
of the Danube army, would sally forth to cut the 
line. Now it is one of Napoleon's sayings that the-^/ 
secret of war lies in the communications. It is 
true that under exceptional circumstances an army 
can afford to cut itself loose from its line of com- 
munications with the base — when, that is, it is 
prepared to live entirely upon the country through" 
which it is marching. But for the most part in all, 
warfare, ancient as well as modern, an army needs ' 
to keep its communications open with some friendly 
base in the rear of its advance for the safe convoy 
of supplies and reinforcements, and if it is invading 
a hostile land it is likely to be extremely sensitive 
as to the perfect safety of its line or lines of com- 
munication with the rear. By neglecting this j 
principle Alexander at Issus was trapped in a | 
hopeless position, unless he won a great tactical 
victory. Napoleon at Madrid hurriedly abandoned 
all his year's schemes for the conquest of Portugal 
because a small British force moved boldly out in 


the far north of Spain to threaten his line of com- 
munications with France. Therefore a Vitellian 
invading force advancing down the road to Rome 
was not likely to allow the enemy to cut the one 
line by which reinforcements could come to it, the 
one line by which its own retreat, in case of 
disaster, was secured. Threatened by an advance 
from Aquileia, the Vitellians would surely turn to 
face the advancing foe. They would then find 
themselves in a position which is the most hazardous 
position for an army compelled to fight a decisive 
tactical engagement. This is the position techni- 
cally known as that of an army with its " front to a 
flank." A diagram may make this clear : — 

The Vitellians in 
this position have been 
formed to a front on 
their left flank. When 
a force is thus drawn 
up, the enemy's main 
attack is always directed 
* c upon the flank which is 

A = Vitellian base, over the river beyond nearest tO the base. 
Placentia. -r-. >r ,1 c u 

BC = Direction of Vitellian march for " OT II me lOrCe Can De 

c**£TZ** »„— non, defeated on this flank their base. i ts y me f communica- 

D = Direction of Othonian attack on CB 

from Aquiieia. tions is thereby cut, 

E = Vitellian front to meet the attack. 

and the whole force is 
separated from the hope of succour. Whereas if it 
is worsted on the flank farthest removed from the 
base, the line of communications is still open to 
the defeated army, and retreat, if difficult, is at 


least possible for them. As a general, if not his 
army, must always take into account his position 
in the event of defeat as well as in that of victory 
(unless he is staking all on a single throw, and 
wishes for no choice save that between victory and 
annihilation), the Vitellian commander could not 
contemplate with equanimity an advance which 
might compel him at any moment to form front to 
a flank in face of the enemy, if he was unwilling 
to surrender altogether his line of communications 
to their mercy. 

If then the Vitellians forced the passage of the 
river at Placentia, it was more probable that they 
would not straightway pursue their march south- 
east along the road. They would rather follow 
upon the heels of the retiring Othonians towards 
Aquileia. This would suit Otho well. He would 
be retreating in the direction of the advancing 
Army of the Danube, and the aim of his defence 
of the river — concentration with this — would be 
achieved. Doubtless it was better not to abandon 
the whole of North Italy to the invader, for political 
if not for military reasons. The invader should 
not be allowed to cross the river without fighting, 
at least to prevent murmurs and discouragement 
in Rome and among the Emperor's troops. But 
if, by fighting, the foe forced the passage at 
Placentia, even so the tactical would not be a 
strategical defeat for Otho. 

(2) The first means of delaying the Vitellian ( 2 ) Means 

1 . r of Delay. 

advance was, therefore, the occupation in force of 
a line of defence on the river Po from Placentia j 




to Hostilia. Twenty thousand or twenty -five 
thousand men could surely maintain their position 
here for some time, helped, as they would be, by 
the river. It is true that this could be but a tem- 
porary measure of passive defence. "The defence 
of rivers . . . has hardly ever been successful for 
any length of time. Neither the Danube nor the 
Rhine has stopped armies." A river, like a moun- 
tain range, is an " insurmountable impediment which 
is invariably surmounted." 1 The Po could not be 
permanently held, any more than was the Tugela, 
in the face of repeated and vigorous attempts to 
force the passage, especially when, as in both these 
cases, thanks to inferior numbers or irresolution, 
no counter-stroke over the river could be dealt the 
assailants by the defending army. But as a means 
of delay rather than as a permanent obstacle the 
river was of the greatest value to the Army of 

The second means of delay was the fleet. The 
command of the sea was absolutely Otho's. An 
invasion of North Italy from Germany, it might 
seem, affords the least possible chances that the 
command of the sea should have any influence 
at all upon the conduct of operations. No more 
unpromising field for the application of the pet 
modern theory, it might be urged, could possibly 
be found. Yet none the less, as in the days of the 
second Punic war, although for different reasons, so 
in the civil war of a.d. 69, the invader of Italy had 

1 Von der Goltz, The Nation in Arms, Eng. Trans, p. 261. Cf. 
Hamley, Operations of War, part v. chap. iii. 


cause to regret the fact that the control of the sea 
rested with the defender. 

The reason for this in a.d. 69 was that the 
flank of an army which proposed to cross one of '; 
the western passes over the Alps was vulnerable ' 
from the sea. If Otho could spare the troops, a 
force could speedily be conveyed on shipboard 
to Frejus, and there landed. With the fleet asl Forum 
its base it could march up country to threaten 
the right flank of a column crossing the Alps by^ 
the Mont Genevre or Mont Cenis Pass. If the 
enemy turned upon it with superior numbers, it I 
could retreat to the coast as securely, for example, 
as the British army of the Peninsula in 1808- 1809 
fell back on the fleet at Corunna when pursued by ; 
the thronging battalions of the French. And every 
soldier thereby detached from the invading army, 
every hour's delay to the final concentration of the 
Vitellians in North Italy, was so much pure gain 
to the Emperor. 

This, indeed, would be but a minor operation* 
intended to cause a diversion, and by no means! 
the chief drama to be played in the theatre of\ 
war. But, as its object would be entirely con- 
sistent with, and favourable to, the development 
of Otho's main strategical plan for the beginning 
of the campaign, it would be entirely justifiable. 
The expeditionary force to be sent with the fleet 
must not, indeed, be so large that the main army 
on the Po would be too weak, owing to its 
absence, to fulfil the task of defence assigned 
to it. Nor, again, must it be so small that its 



intended menace could be contemptuously neglected 
by the enemy. Some expeditionary force must be 
sent, if the fleet were to be of any service at all. 
Thus when Napoleon's line of communications with 
France in his invasion of Italy in 1796 ran along 
the coast through Savona, the British fleet, although 
it "completely dominated the Mediterranean littoral," 
was quite unable to threaten these communications, 
since it had no force on board with which to strike 
a blow at them. The use of an army for such 
operations, conveyed by and based upon a fleet, 
however inferior in numbers this army may be 
to the enemy, is a vital element in the strategy 
of the command of the sea, although this principle 
seems hard to realise from the days of Pericles 
down to our own generation. 

If then Otho could spare a few thousand men 
from the Army of Italy to be carried on ship and 
disembarked at Frejus or some other port on the 
coast of Provence— the "Province" — this might 
be a second useful means of delaying the advance 
and concentration of the enemy till such time as the 
Army of the Danube arrived at Mantua. 

Then at last would come the time for offence, 
and Otho's united army could be sent against the 
enemy to hurl them back through a land long since 
exhausted by their stay in it ; back against the grim 
barrier of the mountains which cut them off from 
safety — back with weakened strength and diminished 
numbers, to perish, starved and fighting, penned 
up against the Alpine wall. " Happy the soldier 
to whom fate assigns the part of assailant." Or 


perhaps Otho need not wait for the arrival of the 
entire Danube army when once these were hard 
at hand. "The essential in war is not the massing^?', 
of troops but their co-operation." * " Envelopment, 1 , 
not mere weight of numbers, is the true secret of l^A 
decisive success." 2 Some more daring plan of 
attack might suggest itself which promised speedier 
victory than the frontal attack by a united army. 
Could not the stubborn fighting, the many weary 
miles of marching which lay between the river and 
the mountains, the last desperate stand of despair- 
ing men, — could not all this be avoided by some 
masterpiece of manoeuvre and surprise ? 

But all such plans must for the present be! 
delayed until the Danube army should arrive.! 
Meanwhile one step was enough. Strategy cannot 
look to the horizon lest she stumble in the ditch at 
her feet. " No plan of operations can with any 
safety include more than the first collision with the 1 
enemy's-main force." 3 So for the time the Army 
of Italy should make resolute defence along thej 
line of the Po, and the command of the sea should' 
be used to assist it to delay the Vitellians' advance. 

This strategy surely promised well. It had,<=-— 
however, two defects in chie£/ylt failed to prevent 
ultimately the enemy's concentration in the plain of 
the Po, though delay might be caused by the fleet. 
Gsx And the strategy of defence, however temporary, 
might at any time impair the confidence and morale 
of the men of the army on the river, and especially 

1 Von der Goltz, op. cit. p. 304. - Henderson, Science of War, p. 415. 

3 Von der Goltz, op. cit. p. 187. 


so at a time of civil war, when all the troops 
were excited and impatient. For the game of war 
as played in the field is anything but the War-game 
of the drill hall. Would the Guards, the flower 
of the Roman army, consent to stand for some 
weeks on the defensive against a hated foe? If 
they obeyed such orders, would their military fire 
and zeal not be impaired? Such questions had to 

^be considered by the Emperor. Yet he knew that 
his men were devoted to his cause. The strategy 
of defence on the river was the wisest for him, and 
Otho might well feel that he could rely upon his 
men for any manoeuvre — even that most dispiriting 
one of waiting to be attacked. Further than the 

I Po he would not retreat. Not though the Apen- 
nines in spring are deep with snow, and their 
mountain tracks hazardous and well-nigh impass- 
able, 1 would he fall back under cover of their 
shelter, and seek to lure the foe on to venture into 
their recesses or perhaps be ensnared between them 
and the sea. Retreat to the river was far enough. 
Beyond the river the one maxim laid down by our 
English general for an invaded country held good 

I for Otho and his men : " No foot of ground ceded 
that was not marked with the blood of the enemy." " 
B. Strategical Opportunities of the Vitellians. — 
The Vitellians, on the other hand, enjoyed the 
advantage of being the attacking party, but very 
few advantages besides. The courage and con- 
fidence characteristic of good troops who move 

, ' In April 1907 snow lay 10 to 20 feet deep in places on the Abetone Pass 
between Modena and Fistoia. - Diary of Sir John Moore, vol. ii. p. 75. 


to the attack, and apt to be lacking in those 
kept on the defence, might certainly be theirs. 
Yet perhaps this would hardly do more for them 
than compensate for their original inferiority as 
troops of the line to the Guards. Clausewitz's 
familiar assertion that the defensive form of warfare 
is in its nature stronger than the offensive, causes 
very great searchings of heart to the strategists 
among his countrymen to-day. But if ever a strat- 
egical position were wanted to justify the assertion, 
that of the spring of a.d. 69 might seem to be the one 
desired. For then the Vitellian chances of prosper* 
ous attack seemed somewhat meagre compared with 
the Othonian of happy defence. The most obvious^ 
perhaps the only possible, strategy for the invaders 
was a rapid descent over the mountains to the plain 
of the Po, and a frontal assault upon the position 
garrisoned by the Army of Italy. Time was of the 1 
most vital importance to the Vitellians. They 
must hasten to move upon Italy in time to anti-] 
cipate a possible blocking of the Alpine passes. | 
They must hasten to fall upon the Army of Italy 
before the Army of the Danube had time to come 
to its aid. Only if they could crush the former force ! 
before the arrival of the latter in strength would they 
have the undoubted superiority henceforward in the 
strategy of the war, should the war continue. The ' 
movement upon Italy in two columns by different I 
passes was necessary. The column which, travelling \ 
by the nearer route, first arrived in Italy must, if 
strong enough, attack the enemy at once ; if too 
weak, or beaten in its onset, it must wait for the 


coming of the second column to reinforce it. And 
the race between the reinforcements of both sides 
would in truth be an anxious one. Speed, concentra- 
tion, and frontal attack seemed the sole means to 
the Vitellians of achieving success. And the 
strength of the defenders' position combined with 
the means open to them of delaying the assailants' 
approach might neutralise the advantage of 
numerical superiority enjoyed by the latter. 

An alternative strategy to this of concentration 
Vind frontal attack might be considered. The 
" strategy of penetration " justly wields much 
I fascination, and for modern war has all the support 
I of Napoleon's favourite practice behind it. If the 
Vitellians could thrust boldly between the two 
fractions of Otho's gathering army, could they not 
defeat them in detail ? The Brenner Pass in the 
north offered the easiest access to Italy of all the 
Alpine passes, and led straight down to the very 
centre of the hostile position. Could the Vitellian 
generals use the advantage of superior numbers 
which they enjoyed at the outset, and drive in a 
great wedge of their own men, penetrating the 
defenders' lines midway between Placentia and 
Aquileia ? This alternative strategy deserved 
consideration by the Vitellians at the beginning 
of the campaign. But the reasons which caused 
Caecina to reject it were adequate. 1 

Such were the strategical opportunities of both 
sides at the outset of the struggle. No campaign 
ever yet followed precisely the course marked out 

1 See below, § 4. 


for it by the strategist. The weavers at the loom 
of war might think to have but a common and 
familiar pattern for their work. But the designer 
who cuts out the cards for them may have indulged 
a free fancy in the pattern which he gives them. 

§ 4. The March of the Vitellians 

Confident in his greater numbers, Vitellius 
issued orders for the immediate invasion of Italy. 
He divided his forces into three parts. Two of 
these were advance columns of invasion ; the third 
was the reserve, to follow later in support. 

The advance columns were ordered to penetrate 
into the valley of the Po by different Alpine passes. 1 
The first of these, the " Cologne Column " from 
Lower Germany, under Fabius Valens, was to 
march through Gaul and cross the Alps by the 
Mont Genevre Pass on the west of the mountains.! Aipes 

I Cottianae. 

This column was composed of the Fifth legion 
with its " eagle," and of detachments (" vexilla ") of 
the' First, Fifteenth, and Sixteenth legions, together 
with auxiliary squadrons (" alae "), and cohorts from 
11 Germany." Its strength was reckoned as forty 
thousand troops. The second of the advance 
columns, the " Vindonissa Column," from Upper 
Germany, was commanded by Aulus Cjaeclna 
Alienus. It consisted of the Twenty-first legion, 
detachments of the Fourth and Twenty - second, 
and German auxiliaries, and amounted to thirty 
thousand men. This column was bidden enter 

1 For the reasons dictating this see above, p. 39. 



Italy on the north-west by the Great St. Bernard 
Pass. The reserve, consisting of such other forces 
as could be raised in Germany and elsewhere, was 
to march under the personal command of Vitellius 
himself, advancing with such greater deliberation 
as befitted their general's ripe years, great import- 
ance, and unwieldy frame. 1 And, in fact, the 
campaign was decided six weeks before he himself 
arrived upon the scene of the decisive battle. 2 

A. The March of Valens? — From its place of 
concentration on the Lower Rhine, in the neigh- 
bourhood of Cologne, Valens' column marched up 
that river as far as the modern Andernach, a little 
short of the point where, at Coblenz, the Moselle 
enters the Rhine. It was probably at Andernach 
that Valens left the main river and struck over the 
hills through the territory of the Treveri to the 
capital of that tribe, now Treves, in the valley of 
the Moselle. Thence Valens led his troops to 
Metz, higher up the valley, and from Metz to Toul, 
the capital of the Leuci. At Toul the column left 
the Moselle, and crossed rolling country to the 
chief city of the tribe of the Lingones, now Langres, 
hard by the source of the Marne. Here it was 

1 Tac. i. 6 1. "Vitellius . . . tota mole belli secuturus," an exaggerated 
phrase. For Valens and Caecina see above, pp. n-12. 

3 The "battle of Bedriacum," April 15. Visit of Vitellius to the battle- 
ground, May 24. 

3 Tac. i. 62-66 ; ii. 27-30. The Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum 
("C.I.L.") enables us to identify the places mentioned in Tacitus' narrative 
with their modern equivalents. I use the latter in the text, placing the 
Latin titles in the margin. Certain picturesque incidents which befel on the 
march, but did not affect the military situation, are omitted. 

4 C.I. I., xiii. I, fasc. 2, p. 662. 
s C.I.L. xiii. 2, p. 702. 

6 C.I.L. xiii. 2. 1, p. 109. 


joined by eight Batavian cohorts. These were 
properly associated as auxiliaries with the Four- 
teenth legion. This legion had belonged to the 
Army of Britain, but had recently been transferred 
to Dalmatia. The eight cohorts, however, had 
refused on the march to follow it to its new 
province, and were sulkily making their way back 
to Britain when, at Langres, the news of Vitellius' 
rising reached them. Here then they waited 
events, until Valens on his arrival added them to 
his force. They proved but sorry allies. At once 
they quarrelled violently with his legionaries, and, in 
fact, gave the general endless trouble — not indeed 
because they had the least sympathy with the 
Othonian cause (as their actions subsequently 
showed), but through their native ferocity and 
impatience of discipline. 1 

The Aedui, into whose territory the army next 
entered, hastened to buy the goodwill of the 
soldiers by satisfying their hunger, as they con- 
ciliated Valens by satisfying his demands for 
money and arms. This tribe occupied the high 
land between the rivers Saone and Loire, but the 
army passed through their borders only, following 
the road which runs from Langres through Dijon 
to Chalon-sur-Saone, and did not visit their chief Cabil - 


city, on the site of the modern Autun, which lay 
away on the right flank. From Chalon they 
marched down the valley of the river Saone to its 
meeting with the Rhone at Lugdunum. Here the 

1 Tac. i. 59, 64 ; ii. 27, 66, 69. They subsequently did good service in 
Mritain with Agricola : Tac. Agric. 36. 


townsfolk welcomed them with open arms. Their 
grudge against Galba for his favour shown to 
their bitter rivals of Vienne was deep, and Otho 
had done nothing to appease it. The legions of 
Germany were their old comrades in arms against 
the rebel Gauls, and the citizens dreamed fondly 
that the day of their vengeance upon their enemies 
lower down the river had dawned at last. 1 And, 
indeed, it had done so, had not the men of Vienne 
won safety by tears, entreaties, and gifts to gain the 
soldiers' pity, and by enormous bribes, it was said, 
to the general. At Lugdunum Valens strengthened 
his force by the addition of the greater part of the 
garrison of that city, the First legion Italica and 
the ala Tauriana, and left only the Eighteenth 
cohort to guard the place. Then the army marched 
away down-stream, passed peaceably through the 
streets of Vienne, between the river and the over- 
hanging heights, and followed the left bank of the 
Rhone through the Allobroges' territory southwards 
by way of Valence as far as its tributary the Drome. 
Thence the column pursued its slow and terrifying 
way up this stream, extorting money, by menaces 
and fire, from the little places through which it 
passed, and, when there was no money, appeasing 
its disappointment by gratifying its lust. One 
hope only of speedy relief from the army's presence 
was left to the landowners and magistrates on the 
army's route. Valens' cupidity would sell even 
this relief for a price. Such profitable trafficking 
had long been known to Roman generals, and 

1 See above, p. 27. 


Valens, too, reaped his harvest of gain as he led his 
troops on their infamous march to Italy. In such 
wise the army marched by the modern little towns 
of Die and Luc-en-Diois on the Drome to Briancon, Dea 


and, crossing the Alps by the Mont Genevre Pass, tiorum. 
came down the Doria Riparia valley by Susa to the Augjusti. 
Po at Augusta Taurinorum (Turin). Brigant,a 

But the mountains were not the only difficulty 
which Valens had to surmount. At some point 
during the march from Vienne to the Po, and 
probably before the army had crossed the Alps, 
he had become conscious that the activity of the j 
enemy's fleet on the coast at Frejus threatened the 
security of his right flank. 1 Anxious to strengthen,' 
the Vitellian forces on the coast, he therefore 
detached a few of the unruly Batavian cohorts 
from his main army and sent them away to the 
rescue. Also they were turbulent boasters, and 
he was glad of the chance to be rid of them. But 
strategical needs above all dictated the general's 
orders. His other troops, however, discovered 
their departure, and resented it. Ignorant of the 
imperative strategical necessity of guarding their 
flank and their sole line of communications, they 
thought only of the strength of their own force, and 
clamoured that " so powerful a limb should not be 
torn from the body." They would, they declared, 
all proceed to the Province, or they would all 
march to Italy together. 2 When Valens attempted 
to quell the growing disturbance, open mutiny 

1 See below, § 5. 
a For the strategical aspect of the question see above, pp. 50-52. 


broke out. The general fled in terror, and while 
he, clad in a slave's garb, lurked concealed in a 
subaltern's tent, the happy troops ransacked his 
quarters, searching vainly for the gold of Vienne. 
When the excitement died down, and anger gave 
place to repentance and shame, Valens pitifully 
presented himself again to his men. General and 
soldiers wept together in the joy of reconciliation, 
and a few rioters were punished by reprimand. 
And this is a Roman army ! Truly may the 
Roman historian remark that in times of civil 
war the soldiers' license exceeds that of the 
general. 1 

So Valens led his repentant troops over the 
Pavia. Alps to the Po, and down this river to Ticinum. 
\ Here at the beginning of April his army was 
engaged in fortifying a camp when the news 
reached them that their comrades of the Second 
Army were in a sore plight lower down the river, 
at Cremona. Already Caecina and his Vindonissa 
column had met the enemy and had been defeated. 
The news called for instant action. Valens broke 
up his camp and marched at full speed to join his 
colleague at Cremona. He arrived here in the 
second week of the month. 

B. The March of Caecina? — The headquarters 
of Caecina and the Second Army were at Vindo- 
nissa. This camp was situated on the tongue of 
land which lies between the rivers Reuss and Aare. 
A few miles to the north, the Aare flows into the 
Rhine between Schaffhausen to the east and 

1 Tac. ii. 29. 2 Tac. i. 67-70. 


Sackingen to the west. In the neighbourhood of 
the camp and to south and south-west of it lay the 
tribe of Helvetii, once the early and stalwart foes of 
Julius Caesar, but now a civilised folk, who supplied 
auxiliaries to the Roman army, and had gained in 
culture what they had lost in pluck. Opportunities 
for plunder afforded by civil war were even more 
welcome to Caecina than they were to the more 
indolent Valens. The tribe and its belongings 
offered an easy prey to his disciplined troops, and a 
pretext for attack upon them was the more easily 
found as they were ignorant of Galba's death and 
refused to accept Vitellius. It was Caecina's clear 
duty to his Emperor to press on into Italy with all 
possible speed. 1 Instead of this he let loose his 
army upon the unlucky natives, and sent bidding 
his friends, the procurator of Raetia and his 
auxiliary troops, to harry them from east and south 
while he himself descended upon them from the 
north. The task was as easy as it was profitable, 
and the miseries of the tribe were great. Their 
country was laid waste far and wide ; their resist- 
ance was spiritless and availed them nothing. The 
hot medicinal springs of Baden on the river Limmat, 
some sixteen miles to the north-west of the town 
and lake of Zurich, from which lake the river flows, 
were already known at this time, and the place, 
under the title of Aquae Helvetiorum, had become 
a popular watering-place, frequented by the tribe. 2 

1 See the strategical reasons for this above, p. 55. 

- " Locus . . . amoeno salubrium aquarum usu frequens.' Cf. C.I.L. 
iii. 6017 ; xiii. 5233 ; xiii. 2, p. 42. 


Caecina sacked and destroyed it. The Raetian 
auxiliaries swept down from Lake Constance upon 
the victims. The refugees from the general 
slaughter flung away their arms and fled to the 
Mons hills of the Botzbem (which form the extreme 

Vocetius. T i- 

north-east end of the Jura range, and lie a few 
miles west of Windisch). They were driven out 
by a cohort of Thracian auxiliaries, and thousands 
more were butchered in the pursuit. Caecina next 
marched upon the capital city of the tribe, Aven- 
ticum. This, the modern Avenches, 1 lies hard by 
the lake of Morat, five miles to the east of the lake 
of Neuchatel. Aventicum surrendered. The 
general allowed the townsfolk to appeal for mercy 
to Vitellius. They won pardon with difficulty, 
thanks to a sudden change of feeling towards them 
on part of Vitellius' army, which, of course, took 
upon itself to decide the matter. If the Roman 
legionary of the time could once be induced to 
weep, then there was hope of mercy at his hands. 
Streams of tears saved the remnant of the Helvetii 
from the extremes of Imperial vengeance. Later, 
Vespasian the Emperor bestowed the Jus Latinum 
on the place in recompense for its sufferings at the 
hands of his enemies, and under the proud title of 
Colonia Pia Flavia Constans Emerita Helvetiorum 
the town might perhaps forget its earlier woes. 2 

While Caecina stayed dallying at Aventicum, 
news reached him from Italy which called for 

1 German, Wiflisberg. 

2 C.I.L. xiii. 5089, 5093, 5063, and Zangemeister, ap. C.I.L. xiii. 2, 
PP- 5. 6 » 18. 


prompt action on his part. At the outbreak of the 
war, as has been said, Otho's only troops actually 
in the valley of the Po were one squadron of 
auxiliary horse, the ala Siliana. But this same 
ala had chanced to be quartered in Africa eight I 
years before, at the time when Vitellius adminis- 
tered the affairs of that province. Its officers 
therefore succeeded in persuading the men to 
throw in their lot with their old governor, and the 
more easily as the numbers and valour of the Army 
of Germany inspired the regiment with much awe. 
It therefore at this point revolted from Otho, and 
brought over with it to the Vitellian side the four 
strongest towns 1 of the Transpadane district in 
North-west Italy, which lay north of the Po. If 
these four towns, Mediolanum (Milan), Novaria 
(Novara), Vercellae (Vercelli), and Eporedia(Ivrea), 
once fell into the hands of the enemy, the Othonians 
had no choice but to limit their attempts at defence 
to the line of the river itself. This was the news/ 
which reached Caecina at Aventicum. The whole 
of North-west Italy, with its garrison towns com- 
manding the issues of the Great St. Bernarcl, 
Pass, was offered to him. By this pass he haaj] 
been ordered to enter Italy. But the one little 
regiment of horse could not hold the tract for long 
in face of the enemy moving up from the south. 
Caecina therefore, without more delay, hurried strong 
reinforcements over the Alps to its help. These 
consisted of Gallic, Lusitanian, and British auxiliary 
cohorts, detachments ("vexilla") of German troops, 

1 " Firmissima municipia." 


CH. 1 

and another squadron of cavalry, the ala Petrlana. 1 
I For the moment, these troops on arrival might well 
hold in check any attempt by the enemy to cross 
the Po in force. And then Caecina had to set 
himself anxiously to consider what his main plan of 
campaign should now be. 

To carry out Vitellius' orders, it was right for 
him to follow with the rest of his army over the 
Great St. Bernard, in the wake of his advance 
guard, as speedily as possible. But the idea of an 
alternative and more daring strategy was first at 
least to be considered. 

This was the "strategy of penetration." If 
Caecina could cross the Alps farther to the east he 
could perhaps thrust his force between the two parts 
of the Othonian defending army upon the Po. For 
this purpose the Brenner Pass, by which the great 
road from Innsbruck crosses the Alps to Verona, 
was most suitable. It was by far the easiest, the 
lowest, and the best known of all the Alpine passes. 
If Caecina came down upon Verona by this route he 
might hope to cut completely the communications 
of the Danube army at Aquileia with the Army of 
Italy upon the river, by penetrating between them. 
If Valens, then, approached from the west, and if 
the mobilisation of the Danube legions at Aquileia 
proceeded slowly, surely the Army of Italy would 
be caught in the middle and annihilated with ease. 

The plan was a tempting one, but very daring. 
There was always the chance that the penetrating 
army would find the tables turned and itself be 

1 Cf. Tac. ii. 17. 


surrounded. If the movements of the Danube 
army should be quicker than those of Valens' 1 
column, Caecina at Verona or Mantua might find 
himself very uncomfortably placed, especially if he 
found any large part of the Army of Italy blocking 
the way on the Adige at Verona. Valens, too, had 
already started on his march through Gaul. Even 
if Caecina sent him an urgent message to hurry, he 
would not improbably disregard it entirely. 

But geographical obstacles proved finally fatal 
to the plan. The road from Innsbruck to Verona 
over the Brenner was indeed an easy one. The 
top of the pass is under 4500 feet in height. But 
it was by no means such an easy matter to get 
trom the north of Switzerland, where Caecina then 
was, to the valley of the Inn over the " Raetian 
heights." For this purpose he would have to 
march by Lake Constance to the valley of the 111 
river at Feldkirch and then cross the mountains 
to Innsbruck by the Arlberg Pass. This pass is 
nearly 6000 feet in height. In April 1906 it was 
deep in snow for several miles on either side of the 
top, and could be crossed only on snow-shoes. In 
February a.d. 69 it was not likely to have been less 
difficult of passage by an army. ] That Caecina did 

1 That "Raeticis jugis " means the Arlberg Pass is surely beyond doubt. 
The suggested alternative is that of the Stelvio (or Umbrail) Pass, which 
leads from Nauders in the Engadine to Bormio and Tirano, and so to Como 
or to the Val Camonica and Iseo. To reach this pass on the Tyrolese side 
Caecina's route would have lain by Ragatz, and the Fliiela and Ofen Passes 
first. The heights of the passes are as follows : Arlberg, about 5900 feet ; 
Stelvio, 9000 ; Fliiela, 7835 ; Ofen, 7070. It seems at least uncertain 
whether tracks existed over these last three passes in Roman days. How- 
ever this may be, Caecina could hardly have contemplated coming this way in 
February. The difficulties of the Arlberg would be as nothing to those of 
the Stelvio ; the latter pass would have been no service to him against the 


consider the plan is shown by the action of the 
procurator of Noricum, Petronius Urbicus, who was 
ranged upon the enemy's side. Some fifty miles 
east of Innsbruck down the Inn river lay the 
frontier of his province. The procurator, who, like 
his fellow-procurator of Raetia, had only auxiliary 
troops at his disposal, promptly destroyed all the 
bridges over the river, 1 trusting to that fiercely- 
rushing stream to save him from attack if Caecina 
came that way. As a matter of fact, if Caecina had 
crossed the Arlberg it was not Noricum, with its 
petty force and unimportant governor, which would 
have been in his thoughts, but rather the Brenner 
Pass and Italy ; and the procurator had in any case 
alarmed himself needlessly. Had Caecina come 
that way, Petronius Urbicus should indeed have 
made vigorous demonstrations on the flank of the 
enemy's column at Innsbruck, with intent to delay 
its passage over the Brenner. Instead of this he 
was preparing to stand stoutly on the defensive. 
It is a well-known fact of military history that "all 
local commanders are firmly convinced always that 
it is upon them that the brunt of the fighting is 
destined to fall." 2 Petronius Urbicus saw that the 

Othonian position. Even had lie diverged east from Tirano lie would have 
come down on Iseo, Brescia, and Cremona. These places were much 
more easily reached from Neuchatel by the Great St. Bernard. And the 
Stelvio could not possibly have excited the attention of the procurator of 
Noricum. Hence my choice of the Ailberg-Brenner combination. I owe 
thanks to Mr. K. L. Poole for calling my attention to the proposed alternative. 

Of course the Great St. Bernard — height 8 no feet — was hard enough 
to cross, as Napoleon found it in May 1S00. But the Stelvio would 
be much worse. And the Roman column would not march with artillery. 

1 Tacitus says " interruptis Jhitninum pontibus." The plural is un- 
meaning. Only the Inn is concerned. 

- Sir Ian Hamilton, A Staff-Officers Strap-Book, vol. i. p. 94. 


pass over the " Raetian heights " led the enemy 
to the Inn, and concluded that Caecina, if he came 
that way, meant to attack him. For Petronius, in an 
anxious position and with a small handful of troops, 
there was much excuse. But there is little excuse 
for the strategical blindness of the Roman historian 
Tacitus, who complacently reproduces the tale that 
Caecina hesitated whether to attack Noricum or 
Italy, and finally preferred Italy as being more 
important. Such a question could need no de- 
liberation at all. Italy was from first to last' 
Caecina's objective. The very important problem 
for his decision was that of the pass by which 
he should deliver his attack on Italy. Petronius 
Urbicus might easily fail to recognise this. Tacitus 
has no right to be so blind. 1 

Caecina therefore gave up the plan of strategical 
penetration of the enemy's position. Apart from 
the military risks which it involved, the delay which 
the snows of winter would have caused compelled \ 
him to abandon it. Probably it was with reluct- 
ance that he rejected it ; for a few weeks later he 
strove, on the Po, to pursue this same device of 
piercing the enemy's lines, though on the later 
occasion his attempt was one of tactical rather than 
strategical penetration. 2 

He therefore now resumed his march for Italy v 
by the direct route, carrying out the original orders 
which Vitellius had given him. From Aventicum 
he followed in the steps of his advance guard to 

1 See below, Note E, "Tacitus as Military Historian." 
- See below, p. 94. 


the head of Lake Geneva, and up the Rhone valley 
to Martigny. Thence by the Great St. Bernard 
Pass he crossed the " Pennine Alps " to Aosta, and 
proceeded down the valley of the Dora Baltea to 
Eporedia. By the second week in March, a month 
before Valens' column entered Italy, Caecina had 
/crossed the Alps, and was in touch with the 
/ enemy's outposts in the valley of the Po. 

§ 5. The Othonian Measures of Defence 

Meanwhile the Emperor Otho was busy arrang- 
ing for the defence of Italy against the invader. 
)His preliminary measures of defence were two in 
number. In the first place, he sent part of his force 
of Guards on board the fleet to Narbonese Gaul, to 
threaten the flank of Valens' invading column, and at 
least delay, if they could not interrupt, its march. 
■ Secondly, a strong advance guard, under the two 
generals Annius Gallus and Vestricius Spurinna, 
was ordered to leave Rome at once for the north. 
This force consisted of five Praetorian cohorts, the 
First Adjutrix legion, two thousand gladiators, and 
some detachments of cavalry. It was their duty to 
secure the line of the Po. As soon as the treachery 
of the ala Siliana was known, it was clearly im- 
possible to hope to hold the country west and north 
■ \ of Placentia, or to attempt to prevent the muster of 
I \ the Vitellians north of the river. Spurinna there- 
fore, with part of the troops, threw himself into 
Placentia to block the passage of the river at that 
fortress, and therewith the great road to the south. 


Gallus, for his part, moved with the rest of the 
advance guard to secure the communications with 
the Danube army then collecting at Aquileia. 
This he would best do by crossing the river at 
Hostilia and moving forward to a position in the 
neighbourhood of Mantua, which covered that cross- 
ing and the road to the east. 1 

To Otho himself at Rome there was still left a 
considerable number of excellent troops in fighting 
trim and eager for the fray. He left the city, at , 
the head of these, for the theatre of war in North j 
Italy on March 14. He was accompanied by a 
large general staff, including the most renowned^ 
general of the day, Suetonius Paulinus. In his 
train came many unhappy senators, reluctantly and 
of gentle compulsion. These were left behind at 
Mutina when the army moved forward to the front. 
Their panics and distresses, their discomforts and 
perils, their shifts and evasions, form a somewhat 
humorous relief to what henceforward is but a grim 
and sombre story. 2 

These military dispositions were sound. The | 
best defensive position was thereby occupied. • 
Means for delaying the muster of the enemy were 
employed. And, above all, the communications of 
the army on the Po with that of the Danube; 
provinces were secured. The superstitious and 
silly folk in the capital criticised gloomily the 

1 Tacitus does not tell us anything of Gallus' movements when he 
separates from Spurinna. But as when Gallus next appears he is marching 
from the east on Placentia, the statement in the text is the probable infer- 
ence, especially as some of the Danube army is then with him. CI. Tac. it. 
18, 23. 

2 Tac. i. 87 ; ii. II, 52. 


Emperor's speedy departure from Rome. It was 
the month of the dancings of the sacred priesthood, 
the Salii, and the Ancilia, the twelve famous shields, 
could not be restored to their resting-place in Mars' 
Sacrarium until the month was ended. Surely, 
they urged, Otho ought to wait in Rome for the 
sixteen days, until such time as the Salii had 
finished their dancings and the sacred shields were 
restored to their shrine. The very gods seemed 
to desire this. Fearsome omens were recorded, 
and Mars' plain was flooded deep by one of 
those terrible inundations which the Tiber from 
time to time inflicts on the city up to this day. 1 No 
muster or review of the Imperial Army could be 
held on the Campus Martius, and the Via Flaminia, 
the great high-road to the north, which, after leaving 
the city gate, ran parallel to and not far from the 
river, was blocked for some distance. But such 
scruples and hindrances could not delay Otho. The 
Emperor was a soldier, and was well aware of the 
supreme importance of time in operations of war. 
. Caecina, he knew, had already crossed the Alps, 
u Delay had proved fatal to Nero; it should not 
/ imperil him. By the earliest date which his final 
preparations allowed, the 14th of March, he led 
his troops out from Rome. The jumping priests 
must jump for a fortnight without him. They will 
jump all the more merrily next year if he comes 
back in triumph. " Deorum injurias dis curae." 

1 The Campus Martius, lying on the river bank, is peculiarly liable to 
these floods. The tablets recording the height of the river at such times, 
e.g. in the Piazza of the Pantheon, are familiar to visitors to Rome. In 
some cases they are as high or higher than the reader's head. 


Otho will trust rather to the devotion of his ! 
soldiers than to divine patronage. Armed with 
cuirass of iron the Emperor marched on foot in 
front of the standards, rough in dress and look, and j 
careless of comfort. This was not the Otho whom 
men had known in former days. It was a soldier 
Emperor marching to defend his empery. 1 

Yet, excellent though these measures of defence 
were, the course of events, as they developed, dis- 
covered three flaws in them. The force sent on 
shipboard acted too feebly ; the Army of the Danube 
gathered together too slowly; and Cremona fell into v 
the hands of the foe. 

(1) The Action of the Fleet} — Otho entrusted 
the command of the naval expedition to three men. 
Their incapacity was equalled only by their in- 
significance. Otho lacked entirely that admirable) 
faculty of being able to choose men, which his pre-j 

^decessor Nero had possessed in marked measureJ 
^\6lt was this lack which ruined him. Of the three 

•commanders of the fleet, one was put in irons by his 
troops ; the second was unable to control them ; the 
third to control himself. There was no discipline, 
and the fleet sailed up the north-west coast of Italy 
like a pirate fleet, ravaging and murdering. One 
of the victims was the mother of Agricola ; and the 
Roman historian, who found in this general the hero 
of his youth, writes bitterly of the ferocity shown 
by the Othonian troops who were sent on this 
expedition : — 

1 C(. Tac. i. S6-89; ii. II. 

2 Tac. ii. 12-16 ; Agricola, c. 7. 


It seemed they entred not into Italie, their owne native 
countrey and soile : as if it had bene forraine coasts and cities 
of enemies, they burned, wasted, and spoiled, with so much 
the more outrage and harme because no such invasion was 
feared, and therefore nothing provided against it : the fields lay- 
full of commodities ; the houses wide open ; the masters meeting 
them with their wives and children, through the security of 
peace, were overtaken with the misery of warre. 1 

The hill men who came down to the rescue were 
easily routed and dispersed by the regular troops, 
who proceeded in their wrath to sack the town of 
Intimilium, now Ventimiglia, the Riviera town on 
the frontier between France and Italy. 2 

The pezants were beggerly, their armour not worth taking 
up ; and beside, being swift of foote and skilfull in the countrey, 
they could not be taken : but the sacke of the poore innocent 
towne paied the reckening, and contented the covetous soldier. 
The odiousnesse of which fact was greatly increased by a notable 
example which happened there of a Ligurian woman : who 
having hid her sonne, the soldiers supposing she had hid her 
money withall, and thereupon by torture examining hir, where 
she had hid him, shewing hir belly answered that there he was 
hid : neyther could she by any manner of torment afterwarde, 
or death at the length, be induced to change that worthy 

While the fleet was thus pleasantly occupied, a 
messenger rode off in hot haste to Valens imploring 
help. That general saw at once the danger which, 
if the plunderers were not checked, threatened 

1 This and the following quotation are from Sir II. Savile's translation of 
the Histories, A. D. 1 591. This cannot always be trusted for accuracy, but it 
deserves to be remembered, and that not only by Mertonians, if for no other 
reason yet at least for its splendid address "To the Reader." 

2 There is no doubt that Intimilium, not Albintimilium, is the right 


not only the coast of the Maritime Alps and the 
Province, but also his own march to Italy. He 
therefore sent at once a strong force, mainly of 
cavalry, including the ala Treverorum. This last 
squadron was under command of a man soon to 
become only too well known to the Romans, but then 
merely a subordinate officer of auxiliaries in the Army 
of Germany. But this man, Julius Classicus, was a 
great noble in his clan, and one of the leaders in the 
near future of the rebellion on the Rhine. 1 Of this 
force, part was ordered by Valens to strengthen the 
garrison of Forum Julii (Frejus) against the risk of I 
attack. The rest joined the local troops collected 1 
for purposes of defence, and marched against the ' 
enemy. These they seemed to have found in the v 
neighbourhood. The brief campaign which followed 
was, though indecisive in results, not without its; 
interest. It served to illustrate the superiority of 
the Guards as soldiers over the Vitellian auxiliary r 
troops, and supplied another example of the use 
which may be made of a fleet during a tactical 
engagement upon the coast, whereby men can be . 
landed from it ashore on the rear of the enemy's 1 
battle line, thus recalling the device employed by J 
Pompey in old days at Dyrrhachium. The tide 
of success in the fighting ebbed and flowed, but on 
the whole the Othonians had the better of it, and 
Valens had to send off more reinforcements to the 
scene of war. J But at the end both sides withdrew 
their forces at such a distance from one another that 1 
neither the cavalry of the one side nor the fleet ot 

1 See below, Chap. III. - See above, p. 61. 


i the other could cause any sudden alarm. The 
Antipoiis. 1 Vitellians retired to the low promontory of Antibes ; 

, the Othonians to Albingaunum, now the many- 

I towered little city of Albenga, which lies in the 
small swampy plain of the Centa, sixty-five miles 
east of Antibes. At Albenga there is one of the 
few pieces of open shore of any extent along the 
whole rocky coast of the Riviera, from Savona to 
Cannes, and the ships could here be beached. But 
it was unnecessary to retire so far eastwards for the 
purpose, as the small harbour of Porto Maurizio 
would have given excellent shelter to the fleet, and 
have been more in touch with the enemy. The 

, fact was that both sides had by tacit consent ceased 
from all warlike activity, and the short maritime 

■ campaign was ended. Sardinia and Corsica were, 
it is true, secured for Otho, but peace henceforward 

\ reigned on the coast of Provence. 

If these tentative and half-hearted operations of 
the fleet and the force which it carried are to be 
viewed merely as an isolated episode in the history 
of the war (and it is in this light that the Roman 

, historian Tacitus regards them), Otho is convicted 
of a strategical blunder in commanding them to 

'. take place. For thereby he weakened his numbers, 
already inferior to those of the enemy, by detaching 

1a force for the purpose of a minor operation of war, 
when his whole energies should have been concen- 
trated on the main issue, the defence of North Italy. 
Otho's order would, in this case, be but an example 
the more of that familiar failing in generalship, for 
' which the dispassionate German critic blames our 


own commanders in the recent Boer war. 1 To 
plunder a town or two on the Riviera, to secure 
Corsica and Sardinia, to worry the local forces of 
the enemy, — these were petty successes which 
counted for nothing in the general course of the 
war. 2 Whereas the loss of strength which these 
successes inflicted upon Otho's main army counted / 
for a good deal. 

But this view of the matter is short-sighted, and 
based rather on the actual results of the campaign / 
on the coast than on the intentions of the Emperor/ 
when he sent the fleet. Otho did not intend to use 
the command of the sea merely to secure such- 
secondary objects. The fleet's activity was meant to 
harass Valens, to weaken his army, to delay its march.-' 
The operations of the fleet were therefore intimately 
connected with the concentration of the Army of the 
Danube at Aquileia, and were part of the whole 
well-designed strategical plan. To a certain extent : 
Otho's hopes were realised. Twice Valens had to 
detach troops from his column and send them to the 1 
coast. And the disturbance caused in his army on 
one of these occasions, which has been narrated, 3 1 
was a greater success for Otho than he could 
reasonably have anticipated. It would indeed have 
been a curious freak on the part of the Genius of War 

1 "The mania of the British leaders for detaching troops for minor 
operations, whereby they weakened themselves prior to a crisis, often had 
disastrous results, and might easily have led to a catastrophe at Driefontein 
also" {German Official History of the Boer War, Eng. Trans, ii. p. 49). 

At Driefontein we were compelled to throw all our scanty reserves into 
the line of battle to carry the position in one last effort. 

- Tacitus himself rightly comments on the small importance of Corsica in 
this connection, ii. 16. 

3 See above, p. 62. 


CU. 1 

had the command of the sea in this year by the foe 
cost Valens his life, thanks to the mutinous spirit 
of his troops. In this event Caecina would in all 
likelihood have been crushed, and Valens' leaderless 
column have recoiled on Gaul. Such events were 
not to happen, nor could Otho have expected them. 
But that the action of his fleet did not bring him at 
least a greater measure of success than it did was 
due, not to the Emperor's strategy, but to his officers' 
misuse of their chances. Had these, after their 
victory over the Vitellians on the coast, dared to 
push up country in the direction of Briancon 
instead of weakly retiring to Albenga, Valens' 
whole march over the Alps might have been 
arrested for at least some days, if not weeks. This 
delay might well have resulted, as events showed, 
in the entire destruction of Caecina's column at 
Cremona. For only Valens' arrival saved his 
colleague. The Othonian force marching on 
Briant^on could probably have retreated in safety 
to its base the fleet, had Valens, as might then be 
hoped, turned savagely upon it with his whole 
army. Even had it been cut off and perished, it 
would by its defeat have won victory for its Emperor 
in the main campaign. In this way failure some- 
times spells triumph in the lesson-book of war. In 
this way Sir John Moore, in like manner trusting to 
the fleet at Corunna for his base, splendidly hurled 
his little column at Napoleon's line of communica- 
tions in North Spain and saved the Peninsula. But 
Otho's officers lacked either the pluck or the insight 
of such a general. It may be that they distrusted 


the uncertain character of their initial success ; it may 
be that they dared not run the great risk involved. 
It is probable that they were quarrelling among 
themselves. Whatever the reason, the fleet and the' 
force on board of it missed their chances, and Otho's 1 
position of defence was greatly weakened thereby. 

(2) The Mobilisation of the Danube Ar?ny. — A 
second and more damaging flaw in Otho's armour * 
of defence was the fact that the Army of the Danube 
was concentrating at Aquileia far too slowly. The ■ 
four legions of Pannonia and Dalmatia were the\ 
nearest to the scene of the coming struggle. To 
some extent they realised the importance of speed, 
and, since they themselves were not yet ready to 
march as whole units, each sent forward a special 
detachment ("vexillum") of its men in front of it. 
These detachments were each two thousand strong. 
But even of these only one arrived in time to takes 
part in the first battle in the field, that of Locus I 
Castorum on April 6. Behind this solitary detach- 
ment were the three similar ones ; behind these 
the bulk of their legions ; and farthest from the 
theatre of war were the Moesian legions, slowly 
assembling. This slackness on the part of the 
Danube army, says the Roman historian, was due I 
to over - confidence : "E fiducia tarditas inerat." 
Yet it was a time when every day that passed 
before that army came in strength might spell ruin 
to their cause and to their Emperor. There is no 
excuse for their deliberation in movement or for 1 
their confidence. 1 

1 See Note A, " The Movements of the Danube Legions." 


(3) The Loss of Italy north of the Po, including 
Cremona. — Finally, the speed of Caecina's advance 
guard had already cost Otho dear. When Spurinna 
arrived at Placentia, he found that a cohors Pan- 
noniorum of the Army of Defence had already been 
captured at Cremona, and this strongly-walled city 
fell into the enemy's hands about the same time. 
I " All the fields and cities between the Po and the 
Alps were held by the Vitellian forces." l The loss 
of Cremona, though unavoidable, was a serious 
disaster. This city lies on the north bank of the 
Po, some twenty-five miles from Piacenza to the 
west, 2 and forty from Mantua on the east. It had 
originally been built three centuries before as a 
Roman outpost north of the river to keep the 
Gallic tribes in check, and it was still strongly 
fortified. There does not seem to have been any 
bridge in a.d. 69 at the city over the river. To-day 
there is a bridge over the Po of enormous structure 
and great length, separated from the city gate by a 
mile of weary road. But Cremona in a.d. 69 pos- 
sessed no " bridge-head " on the southern bank of 
the Po, which would have put a force holding the 
town in a position to turn the flank of the gar- 
rison of Placentia, and render the holding of that 
fortress useless. Yet its seizure by Caecina gave 
the Vitellian general a strong base of operations for 
movements of offence against the Othonian line of 
defence, a place of refuge in the event of defeat 
or the advance of the enemy in force, and a safe 

1 Tac. ii. 17. 
- By road vid Codogno on the left bank ; in a bee-line, 16 miles only. 


resting-place in which he could await the arrival of 
his colleague, Valens. Its loss, therefore, to Otho 
was serious. It was only the Emperor's strategical 
brilliance which later all but turned this loss to 
positive gain, and made the fortress not Caecina's 
harbour of refuge but a prison-house for him and 
his army. 1 

In these three respects, therefore, Otho's position 
at the beginning of the " tactical chapter " in the 
history of the campaign was not so favourable as it 
would have been had his generals been abler men. 
He himself had made no mistake in his measures^ 
of defence. But the force on shipboard had not 
done its duty ; the legions of the Danube army 
were sluggish ; and all the north bank of the Po I 
from Alps to Cremona had fallen at once into the 
enemy's hands. But if, so far, Fortune had been 
unkind to the Emperor, yet his main line of defence 
south of the river was stoutly held, and Fortune! 
never yet showered all her favours on one side only 
in any war. And now at last the armies were in 
touch.' Spurinna at Placentia, Gallus at Mantua, 
held the two ends of the defensive position. They 
had to expect that the enemy would seek to break 
through, and that immediately. 

§ 6. The First Encounters 

When Spurinna reached Placentia he found the, 
enemy hard at hand. An outpost force of his own I 

1 See below, § 7. Cf. Note B, "The Capture of Cremona by the 



troops, numbering eleven hundred men, was cut off 
by them between the fortress and Ticinum, the 
present town of Pavia. His patrols also speedily 
came into touch with their skirmishers and were 
roughly handled by them. Their Batavian and 
German auxiliaries, excited by success and by the 
sight of a great river again after their many weary 
miles of mountain roads, adepts as they were at 
the means of crossing such an obstacle, swarmed 
across the Po higher up stream and bore down on 
Spurinna's lines. The general, however, was con- 
vinced, as was indeed the case, that Caecina himself 
— and his legionary army had not yet arrived. It 
was his obvious policy to make a reconnaissance in 
force westwards along the river bank to discover, 
;if he could, the strength and intentions of the 

enemy. 1 

With this intent he marched out from Placentia 
over the Po a day's march, and when night fell 
fortified his position by the river. 2 He had not 

1 Tacitus asserts (ii. 18) that he was compelled to march out against his 
own wishes by his insubordinate troops, who realised their folly next day. 
This seems to me a silly story, told later in the camp, where generals' actions 
are always pulled to pieces. 

2 " In conspectu Padus " (ii. 19). These words greatly trouble the German 
editors. Heraeus, e.g., proposes "e conspectu Padus," on the ground that, 
as Placentia lay on the river and as Spurinna crossed it, he must have led his 
men north, and have been "out of sight of the river," therefore, when he 
halted them. If Oxford were threatened by an enemy who lay in the direc- 
tion of Reading, the commander of the Oxford garrison would surely conduct 
his reconnaissance and feel his way along the Thames, choosing for his night's 
camp a position at Abingdon. Would he strike for the Ridge Way at, e.g., 
Wantage? Classen proposes "in conspectu hostis." Would Spurinna be 
likely to choose such a position for his camp ? In the first place, it would 
have been foolish. In the second place, during his reconnaissance he did 
not come into touch with the enemy at all. The words "in conspectu 
Padus " present no difficulty at all, from a military point of view. The river 
would be an additional protection to the camp. 


met with any opposition, and to advance farther 
along the stream next day was not prudent. He 
therefore left patrols along the river bank and with- 
drew to the fortress. His reconnaissance had been 
fruitless of results, and his troops were well content 
to be back again in shelter. 

Shortly afterwards Caecina himself with his main 
army arrived outside the fortress. His march 
through the plain of North Italy had been a rapid 
one, and he had kept his men well in hand, not allow- 
ing them to plunder the towns through which they 
passed. Caecina, in fact, had " left his cruelty and 
profligacy on the other side of the Alps." In 
presence of the enemy, other and more soldierly 
qualities had to take the place of these. The citizens 
of those towns were reduced to grumbling at 
the general's " barbarian costume," disliking the 
trousers which he wore, and at his wife Salonina's 
gallant display on horseback in a purple robe. 
They were happy that they had no other cause for 
grumbling than a man's novel taste in dress and 
a woman's usual love of show and finery. Caecina 
therefore had no reason to dread any rising in his 
rear when he crossed the Po above Placentia and 
marched down-stream upon the town. It was indeed' 
imperative for him to seek to take that fortress. 
If he neglected it and passed it by, it threatened 
his one line of communications with Valens' 
column. Of this general's approach there was as 
yet no sign, and Caecina must keep the road open 
at least on the north of the river as far as Cremona, 
a town now held by his troops. It was doubtless 


very expedient to win an early success. 1 It was an 
attractive method of attack upon the foe's line of 
defence to assault the extreme flank of it and seek 
to "roll it up" from west to east. But, above all, 
it was necessary for him to guard his own com- 
munications north of the river from the constant 
menace of interruption by a sally over the bridge 
from Placentia, if that fortress remained in posses- 
sion of the enemy's garrison. Caecina was bound 
to get possession of it at once if possible. 

Negotiations were opened between the two 
sides, but resulted in nothing save mutual revilings. 
It was indeed "easier to blame than to praise" the 
characters of Otho and Vitellius. Caecina therefore 
wasted little time on words, but for two days 
delivered a vigorous assault on the fortress. This 
was stubbornly and successfully resisted by the 
garrison, and the Vitellians sullenly admitted their 
first reverse. The first wave of attack spent its 
fury in vain and retreated. 2 Caecina drew off his 
defeated army and marched for Cremona, into which 
town he threw himself. His strategical position 
was one already of some risk. To the west lay his 
imperilled line of communications and, if necessary, 
retreat. In front of him, in the centre of the 
Othonian line of defence, was a small but active 
, and annoying body of gladiators, under Martius 
Macer, who made stinging raids over the river 
— a little hornets' nest which it was hard to 

1 This is the one and only motive ascribed to Caecina by Tacitus ! It is 
by far the weakest of the three. 

- Siege of Placentia at length in Tacitus, ii. 1S-23. 


reach. And on the east a third enemy speedily 

For Gallus at Mantua, on hearing of the assault 
on Placentia, had moved forward towards the west, 
to relieve the pressure on the fortress, the import- 
ance of which he well knew. While on the road, 
north of the river, he received news from Spurinna 
that Caecina had raised the siege and drawn off 
his troops. Gallus therefore halted his army and 
promptly fortified his position. He was then at a 
village hitherto unknown to history, but hencefor- 
ward to be doubly famous in the annals of war — the 
village of Bedriacum. 1 

The broad, dusty Italian high-road which runs 
to-day through the great plain of the Po westwards 
from Mantua, after crossing the Oglio, one of the 
larger tributaries of the main river, some fifteen 
miles from the city, passes by two small towns named 
Bozzolo and Piadena on its way to Cremona. Mid- 
way between these towns, which are nine kilometres 
apart,, and a quarter of a mile north of the road, 
there lies a tiny hamlet, consisting of a church and 
a cluster of small houses nestling together under 
its spire. This hamlet is named Calvatone. It is 
as peacefully remote from the dust and traffic of 
the highway as any Cots wold village which just 
escapes the great Bath road. But here at Calvatone 

1 I think this should be pronounced Bedriacum, despite the analog}- of 
such names as Moguntiacum. For Juvenal's line runs : 

" Bebriaci in campo spolium affectare Palati" (ii. 106). 
Of course the poet could not manage Bebriacum at all, and it is possible 
that he may have taken a licence of mispronunciation, as modern poets have 
done with the name Trafalgar. But, as we have no other evidence at all, 
perhaps we had better half-heartedly follow the poet. 


in Roman days two great roads met — that from 
Hostilia at the crossing of the Po to the south, and 
that from Mantua, both making for Cremona. The 
village where they joined was named Bedriacum. 
As a military post, when war swept over the plain, 
it was both important and easily defensible. A 
force entrenched here covered both the line of com- 
munications with Aquileia and the east, and also 
the crossing of the river by the road which led to 
the great highway to Ariminum and Rome. A 
short distance to the north of it there flowed the 
river Oglio, a broad muddy stream with steep high 
bank on the southern side, not easy to cross, whose 
rapid and broad current turns two long rows of 
water-mills to-day, not unlike those on the Danube. 
There might have been one danger to Gallus when 
he encamped his legions here — the fear lest the foe 
should come down into Italy by the Brenner Pass 
and so cut him off from the Danube army. But by 
this time it was known that Caecina had not chosen 
this way, and there were no enemy in the pass. 1 

At Bedriacum, therefore, Gallus halted his 
troops. And here he was soon afterwards joined 
by the main Army of Italy under its generals 
Suetonius Paulinus and Marius Celsus. A most 
welcome detachment also of two thousand men 
from the Thirteenth legion of Pannonia marched 
into camp, seeming an earnest of the rest of the 
Army of the Danube to come, and with them came 
six auxiliary cohorts and one cavalry squadron 
belonging to this army. Caecina and his troops 

1 See Note C, "The Site of Bedriacum." 


were still at Cremona, a few miles down the broad 
white road, alone. There was no news of Valens' 
column. And the garrison at Placentia kept grim 
watch upon his line of retreat. 

But the Vitellian general was not down-hearted. 
Always in war the force which attacks is likely to 
fight better than that which is attacked. Caecina's 
army was a strong one — stronger in numbers almost 
certainly than the full muster of Otho's men at 
Bedriacum. He resolved at once to take the 
offensive, lest delay should bring the Danube army 
upon the scene. Purely frontal attacks, however, 
were hazardous and costly. He planned to lure 
the Othonians into a snare and so destroy their 

Some twelve Roman miles east of Cremona, 1 the 
Postumian way (which as a great Roman military 
road was raised up high above the level of the rich, 
damp, cultivated land on either side of it) ran for 
a short distance through woods on both sides. On 
emerging from the trees it passed through vine- 
yards. These Italian vineyards of the north are 
not the forest of short upright stakes, such as those 
which line and disfigure the banks of the Rhine and 
the Moselle, but in North Italy the vine stems are 
linked from fruit-tree to fruit-tree in long droop- 
ing and graceful festoons, while the rich earth in 
April supplies enough nourishment also to cover 
the ground under the vines and under the fruit- 
trees with a green carpet of corn. It is indeed 
hard to make one's way through the fields by 

1 I.e. about io| English miles. 


Cremona save where road or track is cut through 
the vineyards. 

Here, just where the road left the cover of the 
trees, Caecina placed an ambush, at a place called 
Locus Castorum, ten miles away from the camp at 
Bedriacum. Some auxiliary infantry were hidden in 
the woods on either side of the way. The cavalry 
were ordered to ride forward towards the enemy 
and provoke them to attack. Then they were to 
fall back along the road in feigned retreat, drawing 
the Othonians in pursuit after them through the 
wood, when the infantry would sally out from the 
trees and have them at their mercy on either 

It was not a very brilliant plan, and Caecina 
might have foreseen that, in a time of civil war, it 
would be promptly betrayed to the other side. 
Moreover, he managed the ordering of his troops 
clumsily enough. No Roman general, except 
Julius Caesar, seems ever to have been a master 
of ambushes and surprises. In this case the biter 
was bit. Otho's generals, Suetonius and Celsus, 
were duly told the whole of Caecina's plan, and took 
their measures accordingly. Tijey marched out 
from camp, three Praetorian cohorts in column on 
the road : on the right flank the First legion, two 
auxiliary cohorts of foot, and five hundred cavalry ; 
on the left flank the two thousand legionaries of the 
Thirteenth legion, four auxiliary cohorts of foot, and 
five hundred cavalry. These cavalry formed the 
extreme wing on either side, and finally one thousand 
other cavalry formed the rear-guard, keeping open 


the communications with the camp at Bedriacum, 
ready, in case of retreat, to open out and let the' 
infantry through, and cover their retirement. In 
this order the Othonians moved out to meet the 
foe. Presently the Vitellian cavalry came in sight,— 
charging along the road. At this Suetonius halted 
his infantry, throwing forward slightly his auxiliary 
foot on either side of the road ; the cavalry under 
Celsus slowly trotted forward as if to receive the 
charge of the enemy's horse. These, obedient to— 
orders, promptly began to retire. But then Celsus — 
for his part halted his men. At this unexpected 
turn of events the Vitellian infantry in the wood """ 
seem to have lost patience ; for they rose from their 
ambush, and pouring tumultuously out upon the 
road came charging down upon Celsus, with their 
own cavalry, it may be, thrust forward in their van 
like the foam of a wave. Nothing could have suited-^ 
Celsus better. Quietly withdrawing his men, when 
he came into touch with his infantry, he passed 
through their ranks, which opened out to allow this, 
and the pursuing Vitellians suddenly found them-" — 
selves trapped in the middle of the enemy's foot. 
The Guards faced them in the front ; the auxiliaries 
threatened them on the flanks ; and Celsus with his 
thousand horse, who had led them into the snare, 
now emerged again from behind his infantry and 
threatened to fall upon them on the rear. It was,- — 
in fact, very nearly a second Cannae. For it was by 
this same device that Hannibal long years ago had 
caught and massacred the Romans. 

But Suetonius Paulinus was no Hannibal, and 1 


all became confusion. While he was hesitating and 
troubling himself about ditches and extensions to 
the flank, as if it were drill upon a field day, not a 
grim melde on the field of battle, the Vitellians 
slipped away from the closing circle into the com- 
fortable shelter of the friendly vineyards. When 
however they, with greater daring than prudence, 
reappeared from cover, the Othonians charged at 
' last, and Caecina's men were driven in rout off the 
field. Nor was their plight in any way redressed 
by their general ; for he had hurriedly sent to 
Cremona for reinforcements, and these came hasten- 
ing down the road in small detachments, only to be 
involved in the general rout and to make confusion 
worse confounded. The battle on the road became 
a nightmare of disorder, until Suetonius checked 
the pursuit and recalled his men. The discomfited 
Vitellians, grateful for the respite, ignominiously 
made good their escape to Cremona. They were 
sated with ambushes for the future. They were 
the smaller of the two Vitellian armies. Where, 
they disconsolately asked, were Valens and his 
larger force ? Were they themselves, a " mere 
handful " in comparison, 1 to bear the whole brunt 
of the fighting ? 2 

In reviewing the story of this extraordinary 
battle, the reader must see that both Suetonius and 
Caecina may be blamed too easily. There were, it 

1 " Tanto pauciores," ii. 30. 

J Tacitus's account of the battle of Locus Castorum (ii. 23-26) is in itself 
a historical nightmare. The account in the text is an attempt to make sense 
out of it. But, even so, infantry and cavalry must have been horribly mixed 
up together. A Roman road is not a Salisbury Plain. And cf. Hardy, 
Plutarch 's Galba and Otho, pp. 239-241. 



is true, bad mistakes made on both sides. Caecina's 
ambush was a clumsy affair ; he could not keep his I 
troops in hand, and when the battle took an un- 
expected course and went against him, he lost his 
head completely. To hurry reinforcements in 
driblets into the firing line when it is yielding is a 
not uncommon device of inferior generals, and is I 
always worse than useless. But in his general idea 
of attacking the Othonians at Bedriacum promptly 
before the Danube army had arrived to their succour) 
Caecina was absolutely right. The Roman historian 
blames him for attacking " more hurriedly than 
wisely," and ascribes his haste to a mere jealous fear 
lest, if he waited, Valens should acquire all the/ 
renown for the war. 1 Tacitus has a genius for mis- 
understanding the essentials of a military situation. 
It might so easily have happened that the Danube 
army outstripped Valens in its coming. Caecina's 
was a sound strategical plan spoilt by faulty tactical! 

In like manner, Suetonius (who displayed no x 
small tactical skill) was over-cautious on the field of 
battle, and let slip a good opportunity for crushing 
the enemy. The vigour which he had once shown 1 
in the black days of the rebellion in Britain seemed \ 
to have deserted him. In battle, something must. v 
be risked or nothing will be achieved. But that 
he was thoroughly justified in calling his men off 
from the pursuit can hardly be doubted, although 
men blamed him for this at the time, and his reputa-j 
tion has suffered for this ever since. Had he\ 

1 Tac. ii. 24. 


allowed the pursuit to continue, his critics urged, 
(the Vitellian army must have been annihilated. 
The result in reality would have been very different. 
Caecina's force must have outnumbered his own in 
a proportion of three to two. The fighting had 
taken place some ten miles from his base camp at 
Bedriacum. The pursuit, if allowed, would have 
I followed yet another ten miles up to the walls of 
I Cremona. There it would have been stopped 
abruptly by Caecina's entrenchments ; and Suet- 
onius' straggling, exhausted, tired troops would 
at once have been exposed to a counter-stroke of 
the rudest and most effective kind. In refusing to 
permit his men to incur this risk, Otho's general 
displayed a sound common sense which is lacking 
in the critics of his generalship. 1 

§ 7. The Strategies of the Final Struggle 

-* A. The Vitellian" Strategy of Penetration" — By 
the time that Caecina had fought and lost the battle 
of Locus Castorum, Valens had at last crossed the 
Alps and arrived at Ticinum. When the news of 
the defeat reached him he acted promptly, and 
marched at once to Cremona, where he joined 
forces with his colleague. At last the Army of 
Germany was united. And not only were Valens' 
numbers by this time nearly twice as large as those 
of Caecina, but the misfortunes of the smaller army 
stiffened discipline through the entire force. It 

1 Even Tacitus seems to approve and understand Suetonius's caution (ii. 
26, fin.). 


was realised that the enemy were prepared to offer 
a stout resistance. They had already given unwel- 
come proof of their valour. The crisis of the 
whole campaign was at hand, and the Vitellians 
braced themselves for a sterner effort. 

In camp together at Cremona the two generals 
took counsel what to do. One possible plan, now 
that they had so large an army at their command, 
was to renew the direct attack upon the enemy at 
Bedriacum, not now by any attempt at a lure or 
ambush, but by an honest frontal attack down the 
Postumian way. But they hesitated to adopt this 
plan. The last fighting had gone very badly. That 
Otho was now himself present and was receiving 
reinforcements was well known. Any day might 
see the arrival of the whole Army of the Danube 
in his camp. Even if they carried the position by 
the dangerous method of a frontal attack before its 
arrival, the enemy would only fall back upon the 
support and shelter of this army. Caecina's energy 
and impulsiveness had ended in defeat. The older 
and more cautiousJValens induced his colleague to 
agree to a more cautious strategy. Their Emperor 
Vitellius would presently arrive with large reinforce- 
ments. They must wait for him, unless themselves 
attacked. On his arrival, with the whole of their 
resources available, they would proceed to the final 
struggle. But meanwhile much could be done. 
The assault on Placentia iiad been a bad failure ; 
but the fortress still menaced both their own position 
and Vitellius' when he came. From it the enemy's 
line stretched eastwards along the southern bank of 



the Po, and immediately opposite Cremona Macer 
and his gladiators were annoying them. They 
- decided to penetra te the enemy's line here in the 
centre, where very probably it was weakest, as it 
relied on the cover afforded by the river. Certainly 
- the troops of the enemy here employed were not 
his best soldiers. Every Roman army was skilled in 
the art of bridge-building ; therefore the engineers 
were set to work under Caecina's directions to 
bridge the Po opposite Cremona. 

The attempt was vigorously opposed by Macer 
and his gladiators on the southern bank. Every 
device was employed to interrupt the building. But 
despite direct attacks on the bridge by boats, and 
the use of fire-ships, the Vitellians were able, by 
dint of steadfast and, for the most part, successful 
fighting, slowly to push on the work. It appeared 
as if the plan of the tactical penetration of the 
hostile line would be achieved and Placentia hope- 
lessly isolated. Caecina was urging on the effort 
when a hurried message reached him from Valens' 
headquarters in Cremona. The enemy had appeared 
in force marching for the town. He, Valens, was 
moving out to face them. Caecina must instantly 
bring all his available men up to the front to 

In fact, while the Vitellian commanders had been 
busy on their own tactical plan, the Othonians had 
been far from idle. If the Vitellians remained quiet 
at Cremona, the initiative had passed to Otho's 
men, so long as their general on the river made 
good the defence of the centre. The Emperor had 


seized the chance offered him by Valens' cautious 
strategy. 1 

B. Othos Council of War} — Shortly after the 
victory of Locus Castorum, the Othonian generals 
welcomed the arrival into camp of the Emperor and' 
his brother Titianus. Otho had summoned Titianus 
from Rome, intending him to take command, when 
he learnt that Suetonius had displeased the troops* 
by checking their pursuit after the battle. But, 
besides the full muster of the Army of Italy, the, 
Army of the Danube was now fast approaching.^ 
Already after the victory the rest of the Thirteenth 
legion, under its legate Vedius Aquila, had 
arrived in camp, to join its vexillum, which it had 
sent before in time to take part in the fighting. 
There also came a detachment of the Four- 
teenth legion from Dalmatia, and a second cavalry 
squadron belonging to the Danube forces. 3 To 
increase, their numbers still further, Spurinna wasj 
summoned from Placentia with the bulk of the) 
garrison of that fortress. He left only enough in 
the town to hold it against sudden surprise. In 
case of any more serious emergency it could easily 
be reinforced again. 

By the second week of April these forces were] 
mustered at Bedriacum. The enemy lay quiet 
at Cremona, trying, it seemed, to bridge the river,, 
and Macer must frustrate this. But they certainly 1 
showed no signs of advancing to attack Bedriacumi;' 

1 The Bridge - Building : see Tac. ii. 34-36, 41; Plutarch, Otho, 10. 
On Tacitus' short-sighted view of this see Note E. 

2 Tac. ii. 31-33. 

3 Tac. ii. 24, 43, 66 ; iii. 2. 


Otho summoned a council of war to discuss the 

At this council of war the three generals 
Suetonius, Celsus, and Gallus agreed in the advice 
which they offered. All three had been remarkably 
successful hitherto by their defensive strategy. 
Thanks to it the victory of Locus Castorum had 
been won. They had, it is true, been reinforced, 
but the Vitellians had been much more strongly 
reinforced. If the enemy did not move to the 
attack, why should they themselves desert the safe 
course and take the offensive ? The bridge-build- 
ing was not a matter of great concern. It was an 
easy matter to look to this. 

Suetonius therefore, supported by the other two, 
strongly urged Otho to remain on the defensive 
l until the summer came. As a "second-best" 
strategy, if the Emperor should be reluctant to wait 
so long, let him at least do nothing for a few days 
longer until the bulk of the Fourteenth legion 
and the " Moesian army " arrived in camp. Already 
detachments of the three Moesian legions had 
arrived at Aquileia. 1 But the three generals, for 
their part, advised the first plan, of a strict defen- 
sive until the summer. Their arguments were, in 
I the main, three in number. 

In the first place, they urged, the enemy could 
expect very few more reinforcements, if any. The 
Gallic provinces were in a ferment : Narbonensis, 
for instance, was seriously alarmed by the operations 
of the fleet. The troops in Britain had their own 

1 Suetonius, Vesp. 6. 


native foes in the island to keep them busy, and, 
moreover, the sea rolled between. Spain had 
scarcely any troops to send. The bank of the 
Rhine had to be guarded by some troops against 
the tribes over that river. The generals therefore 
were of opinion that even when Vitellius himself! 
arrived, he would bring but a scanty force with him/ 

In the next place, delay and defence on their 
own part would involve the foe in very serious 
commissariat difficulties. No supplies could reach 
him by sea. The Alps were a great hindrance to 
the carriage of supplies by land, and the strip of 
country on which he depended — at least, immedi- 
ately for food and forage — that between the Po and 
the mountains, was laid waste and already exhausted. 1 
All that was wanted to complete the demoralisation 
of a hungry army of northerners was the hot sun of ' 
an Italian summer. 

Very different in all respects, they concluded 
finally, was their own position. The longer they 
themselves could delay, the stronger they would | 
become. They had vast quantities of money. In 
civil war money was stronger than the sword, j 
Desertion was easily bought. Upon their side J 
they had all the provinces of the Danube and the 
east, with their strong and vigorous armies, which 
as yet had taken no part in the fighting and were 
theirs to employ. Italy was theirs; theirs, above 
all, was the favour of the Senatus Populusque I 
Romanus. Theirs was the rightful cause. Let them 
then wait till summer came. Their position was 

1 Surely " vastam " in ii. 32 can only be in error for " vastatam " ? 




impregnable, as Placentia's resistance had shown. 
And men of the Army of Italy had no reason to 
dread the fierceness of an Italian July sun: they 
' were used to it. 

For these reasons Suetonius, supported by his 
colleagues, gave counsel of delay. 

There is no reason whatever to suspect him of 
any but the best motives. A wild story, indeed, was 
presently afloat that the general hoped that such 
delay would lead both armies to weary of their 
emperors and depose them ; that the Senate would 
thereupon proceed to choose another prince ; that 
his own great reputation would then carry the elec- 
tion. 1 This indeed was a wild tale enough. The 
soldiers of both armies were devoted to their 
respective emperors. Suetonius was already un- 
popular with his own men. Even the Roman 
historian, despite his pitiless insight into men's 
baser thoughts, rejects this story. When Suetonius 
counselled delay, he believed this to be Otho's 
' wisest strategy. 

And Suetonius' words would carry weight. He 
was " the most experienced general of the day." " 
His fame had been early won in Mauretania, when 
he had been the first Roman to cross the Atlas 
range of mountains. 3 If imperilled in Britain 
recently, that fame had been vindicated by his 
notable victory over the savages in the island, and 
he had crushed their furious rebellion. 4 He came 

1 Tac. ii. 37. - Tac. ii. 31. 

3 Pliny, Hist. Nat. v. 1, 14 ; Dio Cassius, lx. 9. 

4 See my History of Nero, chap. vi. § 3. 


to the council of war fresh from the field of victory ; 
and he adduced grave arguments to support his 

Yet a good tactician is not always a good strate- 
gist, and all Suetonius' successes had been tactical. 
Now, in the council of war, he was urging delay , 
and caution as a strategical plan. That such a 
cautious strategy would be recommended was 
indeed likely. 

How greatness of intellect, which in times of peace enjoys 
the highest consideration, decreases in value in times of war 
when opposed to will, is shown by the result of nearly every 
council of war. It cannot be denied that in an assembly of 
experienced and capable men, the highest aggregate of intelli- 
gence must be collected. Yet Frederick the Great was right in 
peremptorily forbidding his generals to hold a council of war. 
That keen judge of human nature knew full well that nothing is 
ever gained by it save a majority for the "timid party." The 
intelligence collected in a council of war is wont to be productive 
of no other, advantage but that of assiduously searching out all 
the weak points of an army, and of demonstrating the danger of 
action. 1 

Suetonius had certainly produced " a series of 
plausible arguments for leaving well alone." - But 
indeed the Emperor had reason to criticise them. 3 
It certainly was not true that Vitellius would bring" 
only scanty reinforcements. Many Gallic levies 
and as many as eight thousand chosen men of the 
Army of Britain, in spite of sea and savages, joined 
his march, and he was over the Alps by May. 4 

1 Von der Goltz, op. tit. p. 64. 

- Ian Hamilton, Staff-Officer s Scrap-Book, p. 120. 

3 Tacitus adduces no reasons at all for the rejection of Suetonius' advice ; 
for his "imperitia properantes " of ii. 33 is shallow. Cf. Note E. 

4 Tac. ii. 57 ; cf. i. 61. 


I Commissariat difficulties, also, might be foolishly 
jexaggerated. Caecina had kept a stern control of 
his men on his march through North Italy, and the 
land had not been indiscriminately pillaged. All 
that could safely be admitted was that the power of 
the Italian sun in July is fatal to any prolonged 
activity at all. But despite it, the immobile defend- 
ing force was more likely to lose heart because of 
an inactivity imposed by command than was the 
attacking force because of a rest imposed by the 
>heat. It was on all accounts inexpedient to prolong 
the war passively till the summer. Suetonius was 

^ impressed by the strength of their line of defence ; 

/ but in his admiration of the river and the forts he 
was forgetful of men's hearts. Otho's troops de- 

y manded to be led against the invader. They were 
not machine-made puppets, that they could have 
their keen zeal blunted, their passion disappointed, 
with impunity. 

Therefore Otho rejected the advice offered him 
in his council of war. He determined to take the 
offensive against the enemy, and that at once. His 
plan embraced all his forces and was brilliant -in 
conception. Because it failed in execution"; the 
ancient historian failed to understand it. 

C. Othds "Strategy of Envelopment." — The 
Vitellian generals at Cremona were seeking to 
carry out the plan of the tactical penetration of 
the enemy's line. Otho's answer to this was a 
scheme for the strategical envelopment of the 
(entire Vitellian army. The elements of the 
scheme were these : — 


A large part of the Army of the Danube was 
already at Aquileia ; some of its troops were perhaps 
already on the ,road between Aquileia and Bedri- 
acum. 1 This army was to concentrate at Bedriacum 
with all possible speed. 

Meanwhile the troops already at Bedriacum were 
to be moved to the west of the enemy's position at 
Cremona, and flung across the foe's one and only 
line of communication and succour. Seven miles 
to the west of Cremona the river Adua, the modern 
Adda, flows from the north into the Po. This is 
a broad and navigable stream, the outflow of the 
waters of Lake Como. A strong force posted at'; 
the confluence of the Po and Adda, behind the 
latter river, would isolate an enemy at Cremona. 
The Cremona force, cooped up in the town, reduced 
J for its supplies to the few miles of country in its 
immediate neighbourhood, unable to force its way 
over the Po to the south, would be envejuped and 1 
invested. Hunger would speedily compel it to try 
and cut its way out through the force posted on the 
Adda. It might, it is true, find a way of retreat 
open on the north towards Brescia ; but this way 
led it nowhere, save up against the barrier of the 
unfriendly Alps, and still the foe on the Adda lay 
between it and its Emperor Vitellius. If it could , 
not cut its way through this force it must very soon 
capitulate. Even if it did force the passage of the 
Adda with heavy loss, it would be an escaping 
army, fleeing back to a far-off base. Its prestige 

1 E.g. the vexilla of the Seventh legion from Pannonia and Eleventh from 
Dalmatia (ii. 1 1). 


- would be gone and Vitellius' cause ruined. If it 
chose rather to force the passage of the Po, then 
Placentia lay like a lion in its path, and the army 
on the Adda could reach and notably strengthen 
the garrison long before the disheartened column 
of the Vitellians in retreat could arrive outside 

II that fortress. The enemy at Cremona should be 
"enveloped" by the transferring of the army at 
Bedriacum to the line of the Adda, while the Army 
of the Danube marched to take its place at 
Bedriacum and complete the investment. 

When Otho had once conceived the main idea, 
three questions arose in connection with the method 
of its execution : — 

( i ) The Route of the Flank March. — The Emperor 
directed his army to march by the northern bank of 
the river. At some safe distance from Cremona, 
when the generals thought the time had come, the 
force was to leave the Postumian way, and strike 
off to their right flank, to circle round on the north 
side of the town of Cremona, and so to come down 
upon its intended position on the Adda. This 
position was therefore to be reached by a flank 
march in the immediate proximity of the enemy. 
The dangers of this route seemed obvious. Why 
' then did not Otho choose the route on the southern 
side of the Po ? This would have been absolutely 
safe ; and the army would have crossed by Placentia 
and turned eastwards thence to the confluence. 

But this, the safer route, could not be chosen. The 
march from Bedriacum, in that event, would first have 
been an apparent retreat to cross the river at Hostilia. 

sec. vii AND THE VITELLIANS 103 

On the way to Hostilia the army might then 
have met the forces coming up from Aquileia to; 
take its place at Bedriacum. The confusion which 
would have resulted would have been inextricable. 
There was but a single road, and the country on 
both sides of it was either a marsh or heavily culti- 
vated. And the effect of the apparent retreat on^ 
the enemy at Cremona had to be considered. If 
the force in front of them had thus disappeared, 
their attention must at once have been excited. 
Had they guessed Otho's intended manoeuvre they 
would have had abundance of time to occupy the line 
of the Adda themselves, and safeguard their line of 
communications to the west. The whole plan of 
••> strategical envelopment would fail dismally. Had 
they, however, as was far more probable, pursued 
after the retreating column, the feigned retreat 
might easily have become a real one ; or if the Army 
of Bedriacum safely crossed the Po at Hostilia, the 
Danube army, moving up piecemeal, might have 
met the foe hotly pursuing the others, and in that 
case would have been rolled up in disaster, and 
flung back discomfited upon Aquileia. Once more 
the plan of envelopment would be ruined ; and the 
Army of Italy would find itself between a victorious 
foe to the east of it and Vitellius' army approaching 
on the west. 

But if, on the contrary, the force at Bedriacum 
marched by the northern route, not only was this 
less than half the distance, but its effect on the 
enemy would surely be just that which was most » 
desired. The foe was apparently quiescent in his 


entrenched lines at Cremona. On hearing of a 
forward movement on part of the force at Bedriacum, 
surely they would be tempted to cling all the more 
closely to their fortified lines, and thus give the 
Othonians exactly the opportunity which they de- 
sired for passing unmolested round the town on 
the Brescia side. Before the Vitellians recovered 
from their surprise the flank march would be ended, 
and the invaders be trapped at Cremona. There 
was also another consideration : the enemy were 
trying to bridge the Po. If they succeeded, an army 
marching by the southern route might be assailed 
violently on the flank where they deemed themselves 
safe. This would be fatal ; for a flank march is 
horribly dangerous, chiefly when the men engaged 
upon it do not realise the nature of the movement, 
and any sudden appearance of the foe upon their 
own flank is therefore utterly unexpected. 

The soldiers in the marching columns always assume that 
their commanders suppose the enemy straight before them. If 
the latter suddenly appears on the flank, the men may easily 
imagine that they are surprised, and this destroys their confidence. 
Flank marches, which even the private soldier knows to be such, 
are easy to execute. This is proved by the numerous marches 
within the investing lines before Metz and Paris in 1870, for the 
purpose of concentrating troops at certain points. They all in 
their nature were flank marches in relation to the enemy's forces 
stationed between and behind the works of the fortress. But 
here the whole situation was clear, for every soldier knew that 
during the march they could only be attacked from the side of 
the fortress, and the feeling of being placed in an extraordinary 
position disappeared. The troops marched quite unconcernedly 
along or close behind the line of investment. 1 

1 Von der Goltz, The Nation in Arms, p. 237. 

bbc. vii AND THE VITELLIANS 105 

No soldier marching from Bedriacum to the 
Adda by the northern route could have failed to 
realise the situation. On the southern route he— ~ 
might have been unexpectedly attacked and dis- 
mayed. Whereas, if the northern route were chosen, 
the closer the attention which the enemy paid to 
their bridge-building, the better the chance of passing 
quietly by them on the opposite side of the town. 
Cremona was to be the Metz of the campaign. The 
Vitellians were the French ; the Othonians the 

The northern route, then, was the one rightly 
chosen by Otho for the flank march of the envelop- 
ing column. 

(2) The Command for Simultaneous Movement. — 
But why, it might be asked, was not Suetonius' 
advice accepted that Otho should at least wait a' 
few days for the arrival of the Danube army at 
Bedriacum ? Why did he rely rather on a simul- 
taneous movement of both armies — the one to the 
Adda from Bedriacum, the other to Bedriacum 
from Aquileia ? 

The answer to this, again, is not far to seek. 
Had the Othonians made no movement until the. 
Danube legions had arrived at Bedriacum, the 
enemy at once must have heard of the arrival of 
these, and have been anxiously upon their guard. 
For the moment they seemed lulled in inactivity by ' 
a false sense of security. It was this false sense of 
security of which Otho could so brilliantly avail 
himself. Once let the Danube army arrive at 
Bedriacum, any forward movement after its arrival ' 


J would find the foe ./thoroughly awakened out of 

sleep. There would be no chance of envelopment 

by a flank march without stubborn fighting front to 

front. The strategical opportunity would be lost. 

The simultaneous movement of two or more columns 

to the same place needs, indeed, the most careful 

timing to be successful. Yet it is by this that in 

modern warfare the most striking triumphs are won, 

such as that of Koniggratz in 1866. More and 

more such a device of the simultaneous movement 

of converging columns will be employed. But 

Otho's columns had not so hard a task, as their 

simultaneous movement was directed on different 

places. There was no reason why it should not be 

properly carried out by both armies. Certainly the 

whole idea of strategic envelopment depended on 

this simultaneous movement. 

(3) The Position of the Emperor. — Otho himself 
neither waited for the arrival of his Danube army 
at Bedriacum, nor did he put himself at the head 
of the column of march for the Adda. He himself 
crossed the river to a place named Brixellum, the 
modern little town of Brescello, which lies on the 
southern bank of the Po, about midway between 
Hostilia to the east and Cremona to the west. 
With him he took a considerable force of Guards, 
light-armed troops, and cavalry. The Bedriacum 
column was to be led by the Emperor's brother 
Titianus and the prefect of the Guards, Licinius 
Proculus, with Suetonius and Celsus to help them. 

No part of the whole strategical plan has been 
more misrepresented and misunderstood than Otho's 



withdrawal to Brescello. The Roman historian 
thoughtlessly ascribes it to the Emperor's care for-" 
his own personal safety. His troops adored him ;^. 
he had endeared himself to them by a display of 
sterling military qualities on the march from Rome-p- 
he was presently to die with calm courage. And 
yet Tacitus believes that at this, the very crisis of 
the whole campaign, he ran like a coward. More- 
over, at a time when his Army of Bedriacum was 
greatly inferior in numbers to the enemy, and was'^ 
about to make a flank march of no small risk, he, the 
Emperor, still further weakened it by detaching the 
troops which he took with him to Brescello to serve 
as his own personal bodyguard. " That day was 
the beginning of ruin to the Othonian cause," wrote 
the historian ; " the spirit of the troops left behind 
was broken." l Like the Duke of Argyle in face of 
Montrose, Otho, according to this view, found his 
courage fail him, and, when urged by his staff that | 
his life was more valuable than his presence, was | 
easily persuaded to withdraw. And the officers and 
men of the Guards felt his desertion, as did the 
knight of Ardenvohr that of the chief of his clan : — 

" It is better it should be so," said he to himself, devouring 
his own emotion ; " but — of his line of a hundred sires, I know 
not one who would have retired while the banner of Diarmid 
waved in the wind in the face of its most inveterate foes ! " 2 

Surely Otho's Roman courage and his Imperial 
position might well take the place even of a hundred 
sires, now that the very last stake was to be played. 

i Tac. ii. 33. 
2 Cf. Sir W. Scott's Legend of Montrose^ chaps, xviii.-xx. 



The galley on Loch Eil saved the craven chieftain's 
life when the battle was lost. No galley on the Po 
could save the Emperor from the last consequences 
of defeat. 

In actual fact, it was not Otho's duty to lead the 

y flanking column. He was bound to take up such a 
central position as to be able from it to control the 
development of all parts of the combined scheme of 
envelopment. One force was to march to the 
Adda, another to Bedriacum, and all the while the 
defence of the line of the river on the south had to 
be maintained. The commander-in-chief was bound 
to occupy as headquarters a place where he could 
be in touch with all his separate forces which were 
co-operating to secure one end. The commander- 
in-chief in such a case is not allowed to take the 
personal command of one of those separate forces, 
not even of that exposed to the greatest risk of 
contact with the foe. He must be found in a 
situation whence he has a grip of the whole de- 
velopment of the main idea, from which he can, if 

. ' necessary, send troops to any vital and threatened 
point in the whole area of events. Such a central 
position was Brescello. It was in touch with 
Bedriacum, with Hostilia, and with the whole 

^ southern bank of the Po as far as Placentia. 
From it, as a matter of fact, Otho could send a 
member of his staff to take Macer's place when the 
latter's resistance to the bridge-building at Cremona 
was proving inadequate, so great was the advantage 
of the presence of the Emperor at the central posi- 
tion. Because Brescello was out of harm's way, 

sec. vii AND THE VITELLIANS 109 

because the Emperor took no share in the fighting 
which presently fell to the lot of the Bedriacum 
column, men forgot that he was commander-in- 
chief and not a mere general of division, and 
foolishly accused him of cowardice. Such easy 
imputations are part of the heavy burden of supreme 
command. " The magnitude of the personal re- 
sponsibility inseparable from command against the 
enemy " l is surely load enough for the general-in- 
chief without his having also to bear such charges, 
lightly brought and readily believed. 

The more, therefore, that clear-sightedness and intelligent 
direction in the development of a battle is demanded of a 
general, the greater the reason that he should keep out of 
serious danger. The best post for a commander-in-chief is one 
from which he has a clear view of the lines of advance of his 
columns as well as of the enemy's line of battle. Such places 
are usually found only at a considerable distance completely 
beyond the range of fire ; but it would be an entirely false sense 
of honour' to reject them on that account. By displaying his 
contempt of death, a commander-in-chief can scarcely effect 
more than any subordinate officer; but, by clearness and cool 
deliberation in his plans, he will, on the other hand, become 
the benefactor of hundreds of thousands. 2 

The principle applied here in the sphere of 
tactics is true in that of strategy. The great 
scheme of envelopment meant the moving of many 
pieces together on the strategical chessboard. The 
Emperor must be the player and set them all in 
motion from Brescello, not be himself the hardy 
knight to cry checkmate after its skilful moves. The 

1 Henderson, Science of War, p. 50. 
2 Von der Goltz, The Nation in Arms, p. 133. 



flank march of the one column had to be entrusted 
/ to his divisional commanders. The general officer 
commanding must rely on the sagacity and bravery 
of his subordinates. If they prove incompetent he 
jjj pays the penalty, as did Lee at Gettysberg. 

A rough diagram, then, may illustrate the plan 
of strategical envelopment as it might have pre- 
sented itself to Otho's mind, when the investment 
was completed : — 

Ta^ 51 "" 

<*? vg ;t... \- .,j»r-- 

*».. V^. ' •••• \o fin'' 1 '' 

:T9_Pquia_ 1;.V , L, *• RA=^ ■{o t-'~ 



p Fo Og Po *0 Po h 

A = proposed position of the force marching from Bedriacum (B) by dotted line 

and based on Placentia (P), thus cutting the communications 

of the Vitellians at Cremona (C) with the west, via either Milan or 
Pavia (Ticinum). 
B = proposed position at Bedriacum of the force from Aquileia. 
C = the Vitellians " enveloped " (as a result of the flank march) at Cremona. 
"0 = Otho's headquarters at Brescello. 
^>G = Macer's gladiators defending the river against the bridge -building at 

PandH = the only passages of the Po, at Placentia (P), and Hostilia (H) ; 
both in Otho's hands. 
The road to Brescia is a cul-de-sac for the Vitellians, as the passage of the 
Adda farther north (via Bergamo) would be easily controlled by the foe 
at A. 

To achieve the envelopment of the enemy, Otho 
ordered the force at Bedriacum to advance towards 
the enemy upon its flank march to the confluence 
of the Adda and the Po. 

D. The Possibility of Success. — The crucial move- 
ment in the strategical plan of envelopment, upon 
which its whole fortune depended, was the flank 
march of the Bedriacum army. The plan itself 


was a brilliant one. For modern war it has been 
declared that " envelopment, not mere weight of 
numbers, is the true secret of decisive success." 1 
Such was the strategy by which the Emperor Otho 
planned to defeat the enemy, rather than stay idly 
on the defensive, as his older generals recom- 
mended, or make, with inferior numbers, a frontal 
attack on the foe. But were not the dangers of the 1 
flank march too great to allow success ? The plan 
was a daring one. Was it not also a rash one, 
which merited failure ? Criticism might fasten on 
two points — on the enormous risk of the flank 
march itself, and on the precarious situation of the 
force at the confluence even if the flank march was 

Neither, however, of these dangers was such as 
reasonably to deter Otho from carrying out his 

(i) The Flank March. — "These," writes the 
German expert concerning flank marches, "have 
the reputation of being difficult and dangerous 
undertakings. Military history, however, teaches 
us that in the matter of flank marching one may 
venture more than theory jwould seem to allow. 
Frederick the Great at Prague made a flank march 
round the right wing of the Austrians, and at Kolin 
even along their whole front . . . even in manoeuvres 
flank marches are successfully executed even within 
sight of the enemy." 2 

All depended on the immobility of the enemy and, 

1 Henderson, Science of War, p. 415. 

2 Von der Goltz, op. cit. pp. 234, 235. 


especially, on the discretion of Otho's generals. 
They must act rapidly and with decision, and must 
choose the fitting place for striking away north- 
wards from the main road before they came within 
sight of Cremona or in touch with the Vitellians in 
the town. The object to be gained by the march 
was worth many risks. 

The greatest advantage of all turning movements is that, if 
they succeed, they finally result in the whole of the enemy's 
army, or a part of it, being caught between two fires. Scharn- 
horst expressed himself to the effect that " troops attacked upon 
more than one side may be regarded as defeated." This pro- 
nouncement is not true unconditionally, yet it is founded upon 
the fact that he who finds himself between several enemies 
threatening him from different directions, is constrained to 
eccentric action which tends to split up his forces and thus to 
weaken him, while the former work concentrically and gain in 
strength. 1 

If the march were successful the foe would be in 
the trap, and if they escaped at all, it would be only 
to retreat with loss and disgrace. The risks must 
be run. " He who would always in war be on the 
safe side will hardly ever attain his object." J 

(2) The Position on the Adda. — Otho's force, 
if it reached the confluence, might seem to be 
very uncomfortably placed between the enemy at 
Cremona and Vitellius' approaching reinforcements; 
but this in reality was hardly the case. Vitellius 
had not crossed the Alps, and the crisis of the 
situation must come in a very few days after its 
arrival at the confluence. Valens and Caecina had 

1 Von der Goltz, op. cit. p. 283. 
2 A saying of Von Moltke's a propos of the campaign of 1866. AND THE VITELLIANS 113 

not supplies enough to stay sulkily in Cremona, nor 
indeed would their troops be likely tamely to submit 
to this. This force, then, at Cremona was the 
danger, and the Adda was a splendid stream for- 
Otho's men to defend even against a much larger 
army, especially when their comrades from the old 
camp would be pressing upon the rear of the 
attacking enemy. The strong fort which is to-day 
placed on both banks of that river at Pizzighettone, 
where the road and rail for Cremona cross the 
stream, shows the value still placed upon the Adda 
as a military obstacle. Here, then, the force would 
serenely expect the attack of the desperate foe, 
even though it had temporarily surrendered its 
own line of communications with the east. 

It never occurred to any one in the German army at the time 
that on August 18, 1870, we were fighting a great battle with 
reversed front, and that, in our outflanking attack upon the 
French right, we had completely cut ourselves off from our 
established lines of communication. All attention was centred 
forwards in victory and not backwards in retreat. 1 

But the Othonians at the confluence would have . 
been more happily placed in the event of a reverse 
than were the Germans outside Metz ; for the 
former could fall back on Placentia, and so regain 
safety and their communications once more. And 
they were Romans. Otho's strategical plan of 
envelopment was bold in conception, and needed 
energy and intelligence in execution. But its 
daring and possibility merited success ; and the 
alternatives to it of quiescence or of frontal attack 

1 Von der Goltz, op. cit, p. 355. 



promised very little, if any, triumph for the 

§ 8. The " Battle of Bedriacum " 

After Otho had departed from the camp at 
Bedriacum, the generals left in command prepared 
to carry out his orders. Part of the force under 
Gallus was kept in camp to guard it, and to await 
the arrival of the Danube army. The rest of it 
marched out on April 14, along the road to 

' Cremona. In the day's march they covered four- 
teen miles and halted for the night. 1 The generals 
judged it safe to approach within eight miles of the 
city before diverging to the north. The troops 
were marching to take up a new position at the 
confluence of the Adda and Po, and entrench them- 
selves there. They therefore were naturally in full 
marching kit and accompanied by a baggage train. 
It was most desirable to keep to the broad, paved 
way as long as possible. Hence the generals ven- 
tured along it as far as fourteen miles, and en- 
camped for the night. Their ultimate objective, 
the confluence, lay some fifteen miles away in a 
straight line. The next day's march would, how- 
ever, have to be a longer one by reason of the 

J detour round Cremona. 

But neither generals nor troops were in good 
spirits. Even in April the sun can be extremely 
hot and the road exceedingly dusty between Calva- 

1 Reading "ad quartum decimum " for "ad quartum '' in ii. 39. See 
Note D, "The Distances in Tacitus ii. 39, 40." 

sec. viii AND THE VITELLIANS 115 

tone and Cremona. The fourteen miles had been 
fatiguing, and the troops had been distressed for 
lack of water. This indeed was not the generals' 
fault, unless (which seems improbable) they had 
been able to improvise water - carts and had 
neglected to do so. For although in the flat plain 
to the east of Cremona there are to-day ditches, 
innumerable, yet in April these were either dry or* 
contained only a little stagnant filthy water. 1 Of 
rivers there were none ; for every step along the 
road took the thirsty troops farther and farther 
from the Oglio, and their camp for the night in 
the neighbourhood of the modern hamlet of Pieve 
Delmona lay midway between the Oglio on the 
north and the Po on the south, and some six or 
seven miles from both. In the immediate presence! 
of the unsuspecting enemy the men could not bej 
allowed to straggle in search of water, either on) 
the march or from the evening's camp. It might 
indeed have been better if the generals had left 
the main road earlier and encamped beside the 
Oglio for the night. But the attractions of the, 
highway proved too strong. 2 

The soldiers were therefore in a bad temper and ■ 
angry with their generals. In their discontent and 

1 This at least was the case between Calvatone and Piadena in April 

2 Tacitus ii. 39 : " Adeo imperite ut quamquam verno tempore anni et tot 
(sic) circum amnibus penuria aquae fatigarentur. " This, of course, is mere 
nonsense if the march were only four miles. If fourteen, still it is the private 
soldier's view (as always) which puts his sufferings down to lack of skill on 
part of his generals. Tacitus never realises a military situation. He does 
not even tell us that the march lasted two days, although we should have 
inferred it from probability, had not Plutarch directly told us. For the 
impossibility of reconciling Plutarch"s whole story with Tacitus, cf. Note D. 


impatience they loudly lamented the Emperor's 
absence. The generals meanwhile were fiercely 
quarrelling among themselves. Suetonius and 
Celsus disliked and distrusted the whole scheme 
from the beginning. They now gloomily pointed 
( out its risks to Titianus and Proculus, who were, 
/for their part, eager and ready to carry out Otho's 
■ orders. The foe, urged the malcontents, were all 
but in sight. In case of attack these had but four 
miles to tramp (a characteristic underestimate). 
But their own troops were in marching order, not 
fighting trim, and wearied by the march. These 
j recriminations and gloomy reflections came too 
late, and were indeed out of place. The troops 
could not but mark the acrimonious dissensions 
-between their leaders, and these must have the 
worst effect upon them, especially in their present 
temper. There was no doubt that they had come 
too far along the road, too near the enemy, for 
safety. And now the generals were busy discuss- 
ing again what had already been decided. It was 
Ih grand error on Otho's part to entrust the column 
/to a committee of generals in place of one supreme 
commander. Roman generals did not always agree 
together. Two were bad enough, but a council of 
four was indeed likely to ruin any plan. The 
Emperor sought to remedy the evil by his own 
control. He despatched a Numidian mounted 
orderly from Brescello with the stern and impera- 
tive order to the generals to advance . It may 
be that they misread the order, *and thought that 
it countermanded the original plan in favour of a 

sec. viii AND THE VITELLIANS 117 

direct attack upon the Vitellians at Cremona. -£)r 
perhaps Otho himself, hearing that the force had 
come so near to the enemy, judged that there was 
no room for the flank march left, and himself com- 
manded a frontal attack instead. Or, again, the 
generals may have relied on the enemy's inactivity 
and still moved forward, intending to strike north 
presently, allured by the fatal attractions of the 
highway. Whose the blunder was can never now r 
be determined. All that is certain is that Otho's Uv 
whole strategical scheme miscarried ; for when the 
column resumed its march, obedient to orders, on 
April 15, they blundered straight upon the foe. 
The head of the column suddenly found the 
enemy's horse charging full upon them. 

Valens had not been caught unready that*v. 
morning. Under screen of his cavalry charge he 
marched his army out of camp and drew it up 
ready for battle. Caecina and his men were quickly 
summoned from the half- made bridge. The full 
Vitellian army stood ready to fight, drawn up 
quietly despite the near approach of the foe. 
Thick brushwood on either side of the road hid the 
Othonian approach, and in consequence the Vitellian 
regiments moved to their allotted places without 
alarm or disorder. Their cavalry indeed came 
presently reeling back, for the head of the Othonian 
column stood its ground valiantly and repulsed 
them. It needed the levelled pikes and the taunts 
of the First infantry legion of the Vitellians toj 
compel the shaken horse to pull bridle and rally./ 
Then the whole army moved forward on a wide 


I front stretching some distance on either side of the 

' road. The repulse of the enemy's cavalry had 

j given the generals on the Othonian side time to 

extend their front, and dress it to meet their 

opponents to some degree. But their confusion 

was still great. Some indeed believed that the 

advancing foe had abandoned Vitellius' cause and 

[were joining them in all love and amity. Some 

pressed boldly on to the front seeking honour ; 

some hurried as eagerly to the rear in search of 

safety. There was more uproar than there was 

discipline. At the height of the confusion the 

.Vitellian line charged. 

But the fighting was stubborn. Between the 
river and the road two legions strove fiercely. 
The Othonian First Adjutrix, eager to gain its first 
laurels (for it had been but recently levied), rushed 
fiercely upon the Vitellian Twenty- first, a legion 
of old renown, overthrew its first ranks, and carried 
off its eagle in triumph. In bitter anger the 
veterans rallied and thrust hard upon the foe. 
The legate of the First fell, his men were routed, 
and the loss of the eagle was made good by the 
v capture of many colours from the enemy. On the 
other flank, the men of the Fifth legion of the 
German army drove the Pannonian Thirteenth 
legion in flight off the field. The detachment of 
the Fourteenth legion, the famous legion of Britain, 
stood true to their absent comrades and the tradi- 
tions of the regiment. But they, a mere handful, 
could not save the day for Otho, and they fought 
vainly but desperately, surrounded by a ring of 

sec. via AND THE VITELLIANS 119 

foes. It was, like Inkermann, a soldiers' battle. 
Otho's generals had already done their utmost to~ 
ruin his cause by their quarrels. They had igno- 
rantly exposed their army, unprepared and in dis- 
order, to the frontal attack of a more numerous 
and well-ordered veteran force. One thing only 
was lacking. They fled from the field. But their 
men went on fighting. From the southern bank 
of the Po, the gladiators crossed the river in boats 
to help their comrades. Then the Vitellians made 
their last supreme effort. Valens and Caecina flung 
their reserves into the battle-line. The enemy's 
centre was pierced. The Batavian auxiliaries of 
the German army cut the gladiators to pieces even 
before they reached dry land, and, hastening in the 
flush of victory, came charging upon the left flank 
of the stubborn foe. This flank charge decided 
the issue." The Othonians broke and fled wildly. 
The battle was ended. 

The pursuit rolled on for many miles. No 
quarter was given, for, says the Roman historian 
grimly, " captives in civil wars cannot be turned 
to profit." The ways were heaped high with the 
bodies of the slain. The survivors of the rout 
found refuge only with Gallus and the camp at 
Bedriacum, twenty miles away. The Vitellians 
checked their pursuit four miles from the camp, 
and bivouacked for the night just west of the 
modern town of Piadena. Next day, April 16, 
they advanced to Bedriacum, and the garrison 
surrendered. 1 

1 Tac. ii. 39-45- 


Thanks to the mistakes of the enemy, Vitellius' 
generals had won for their master the final victory, 
and with it the Empire. He himself visited the 
scene of the struggle on the 24th of May, six 
weeks after it had been fought. No attempt 
had been made to bury the dead. Caecina and 
Valens showed their Emperor over the battle-field 
and explained to him the details of that bitter fight. 
His one saying is recorded : — 

When hee came into the fields where the battaile was 
fought, and some of his traine loathed and abhorred the 
putrified corruption of the dead bodies, he stuck not to harten 
and encourage them with this cursed speech : that an Enemie 
slaine had a very good smell, but a Citizen farre better. How- 
beit to qualifie and allay the strong savour and sent that they 
cast, hee poured downe his throat before them all exceeding 
great store of strong wine, and dealt the same plentifully 
about. 1 

Vitellius is the one utterly contemptible figure 
of the century. 

Thus the first " Battle of Bedriacum " 2 was 
fought, and Vitellius won his throw for Empire. 
A review of the military measures of both sides 
shows that both made mistakes, or at least failed 
in their intentions. Neither the plan of tactical 
penetration on the one side, nor that of stra- 
tegical envelopment on the other, was fully carried 
out. As Otho's had been the more brilliant and 

1 Suetonius, Vitellius, 10. Philemon Holland's translation (a.d. 1606). 
Cf. Tac. ii. 70. 

2 The title " Battle of Bedriacum " is a misnomer, as the actual fighting 
took place just outside Cremona, twenty miles away, and that of the " Battle 
of Cremona " would be more fitting. But the former name is consecrate by 


From a bust in Vienna. 



daring conception, so its failure, which precipitated 
the final fight, was the more ruinous, and brought 
defeat and death upon him. 

The great cause of its failure was the incompetence^ 
of Otho's generals. As the story of the battle shows, 
they clung to the main road too long, calculating 
too confidently upon the enemy's immobility. But 
the enemy gladly sallied out to attack, and Otho's 
troops were caught encumbered with baggage and 
tools, unready for a fight and not expecting it. 
To incompetence the generals added cowardice, of 
which later they blandly made a merit, and won 
Vitellius' pardon by this means. \] There was small 
wonder that with such generals Otho lost the day. 
His troops fought well for him against all possible 
odds. It had been better for Suetonius had he 
died eight years earlier amid Boadicea's war- 
chariots. ■ He saved Britain. But now he had 
lost himself. 

Otho's generals failed him, as Lee's subordinates 
failed to carry out their orders in the Gettysberg 
campaign. Decisive defeat was the result in both 

But the whole campaign has been misunder- 
stood by the Roman historian. Otho's strategy 
was hidden from him. The reason of this blind- 
ness on Tacitus' part is easily to be found. The 
Emperor could not explain his strategy to his 
troops lest the enemy should hear of it before- 
hand. " The one fixed law of all military 
experience is that whatever is believed in one's 
own camp is believed also to be true in that 


of the enemy." 1 Very little happened in the camp 
at Bedriacum without the foe being at once in- 
formed of it. Civil war produces a rich crop of 
traitors on both sides — above all when the com- 
batants are fighting on behalf of persons and not 

s on behalf of principles. On the very morning of 
April 15 itself, two tribunes of the Praetorian 
Guard sought for, and were "granted, an interview 
with Caecina, which was interrupted only when 
the battle called the general away in haste. 2 Otho 
therefore, having planned to envelop the enemy by 
a flank march, was bound to seek to deceive them 
as to his intentions. If they misread his own 

, departure to Brescello as a sign of cowardice, so 

I much the better. They would be all the less on 
their guard. But by misleading the enemy, the 
Emperor misled also the common soldier in his 
own camp, and in his train he misled the most 
unmilitary of historians. The soldier saw that 
Otho's orders to advance had led to the battle. 
He jumped to the conclusion that Otho had 

1 intended that battle from the first. Tacitus 
solemnly repeats his view. The soldier regretted 
his Emperor's absence and wondered at it. The 
historian explains it with great satisfaction as due 
to cowardice. The soldier found the battle badly 
mismanaged, and heavy defeat the result. The 
historian put it all down to a foolish order to 
advance for a frontal attack. True, the latter had 
discovered in his records or inquiries some faint 

1 Maj.-Gen. Maurice, Diary of Sir John Moore, ii. p. 354. 
- II. 41 j cf. ii. 34., AND THE VITELLIANS 123 

traces of an idea of reaching the confluence. But 
as the direct way to it from Bedriacum lay straight 
through Cremona, he concluded that the troops 
were bound to march that way and hence would 
have to fight. The troops notoriously did march 
that way. The proof was complete. Otho was 
reckless, impatient, foolish, a coward ! He had 
made no mistake up to the time when he issued 
his last orders. This was all the more reason for 
an accumulation of errors in them. His troops, 
adored him after the defeat as before. It was 
curious ; but what will not defeated troops do ? He 
died with unshaken serenity. Any coward can do 
that ! He would not, as he might well have done,, 
prolong the war, falling back on his Danube army,' 
where the line of safe retreat was open to him \ 
he would not challenge Fortune's verdict upon 
second field. He would redeem Italy from war'i 
horrors by the willing sacrifice of his own life] 
This was conduct truly worthy of a coward. The 
common soldier was too ignorant to see fully his 
general's incapacity and shrinking. The historian 
took from him the tales of what befel and of what 
was said, and wisely added the explanations. 

That the military knowledge of the common 
soldier, with all its hopeless limitations, should 
become the wisdom of the journalist is a feature 
of historical writing but too familiar to us of late 
years. Otho sought, as it were, to make a Metz 
of Cremona. Had his strategical idea succeeded, 
Tacitus might have realised its meaning if not its 
brilliance. It failed, and in consequence left but 


one puzzling trace of itself in the historian's 
narrative, when, that is, he speaks of the inten- 
tion to reach the confluence of the Adda and 
the Po. But the historian does not see the 
meaning of this, and gives us in consequence 
a story of the whole campaign which is indeed 
" unintelligible from a military point of view." ' 
Even had the Germans failed in their attempt to 
invest Metz — and they too came near failing — their 
effort would not have been caricatured. To that 
extent, at least, military science has advanced since 
the days of Otho, and left its mark even upon the 
intelligence of the historian. " 

§ 9. The Death of Otho 

When the tidings of defeat reached the Emperor 

\ at Brescello, his troops there implored him to 

continue the struggle. The legions from Moesia 

were hastening to the front and hard at hand. 

I Had Otho willed to live, he might yet have been 

the victor. 

But he refused to be cause of bloodshed any 

longer. Though his men were eager to fight — if 

need were, to die — for him, he would not suffer it. 

The wife, the children, the brother of his triumphant 

1 rival were in his power. He would take no venge- 

) ance upon them. He blamed none, neither men 

1 Mommsen. 

2 The material upon which is based the view of the campaign contained 
in this section, and a discussion of the difficulties of the Tacitean story, are to 
be found in Note D. I have judged it best to give my conclusions in the 
form of a direct narrative. 


nor gods, for the calamity which had befallen.^ 
" Such blame rather befitted him who still longed 
to live." Otho had no such longing. He had 
played gallantly for Empire; he had staked his; 
fortune on a throw and lost. He himself would 
pay the forfeit, but no other one besides. The 
miseries of civil war had lasted long enough, and 
he would not prolong them. If only his own life 
stood now in the way of amity and peace, the way 
should speedily be made open. 

Intrepid in his looks, courteous in his entreaties, 
he now besought, now commanded, his officers to 
hasten to make their peace with the victor, and 
himself rebuked the wrath of the troops with those 
who obeyed and hurried from the camp. Nor 
would he rest until he knew that all had fled. His 
young nephew at his side was panic-stricken. He 
cheered the boy and bade him hope for the new 
Emperor's clemency. " Be brave," he said, " and 
grasp life sturdily ; remember that Otho was your 
uncle, yet remember it not overmuch." He sought 
out and destroyed all letters in which were written 
any words of love for him, of hatred for Vitellius. 
In such-wise and in leave-taking of his friends 
Otho's last day drew to evening. Then, when 
darkness fell, he quenched his thirst with a little 
cold water and lay down in his tent quietly to 

The light of dawn woke him, and he called 
to his freedman in the tent. Had his friends, he 
asked, who had left him the day before, fared well 
upon their going? His servant answered that no 


ill had befallen any. " Go then," said the Emperor, 
" and show yourself now to the troops, lest thou 
die miserably at their hands as having brought 
death upon me." The man went out. Then Otho 
drew from under his pillow a dagger which he 

\ had chosen and hidden there the evening before, 

; and, turning, fell upon it. Hearing a single groan, 
his slaves, still faithful, and Firmus, his loyal pre- 
fect of the Guards, rushed into the tent and found 
their Emperor dead. Death had come quickly to 
him, nor did he die with any Stoic pose. " It is 
the coward who talks much about his death," he 
had yesterday told his soldiers. He might have 
added, " and the philosopher." Otho was a soldier, 
\\ and spent not many words on death. 

His troops carried his body to the pyre, weeping, 

1 kissing, now his hands, now his wounded breast. 
The flame was kindled beneath the funeral pile, 
and, as it blazed upwards, some of his men slew 
themselves beside it for very rivalry of honour and 
of sorrow for their Prince. Others too, when they 
heard of it, in the camps at Bedriacum, Placentia, 
and elsewhere, did the like. The officers might flee. 

I The men followed their Emperor through the gate of 
death. " They had received nothing of great price 
at the dead man's hands, nor did they think to 
suffer any dread doom at his conqueror's. But in 
no tyrant ever, it seemeth, in no monarch hath 
there ever been begotten so terrible, yea so mad, 
a lust for rule as was their lust to yield obedience 
and submit themselves to Otho's governance. Verily 
that fierce longing left them not, no not though he 


was dead, but it abode and passed in the ending of 
it into loathing unquenchable for Vitellius." 1 

It is hard calmly to appraise, dispassionately to 
measure out, such love. It is hard to pass judg- 
ment of indifference or disparagement upon the 
Emperor who inspired it. Otho was careless, 11 
licentious, ambitious, frankly selfish, treacherous ;'J. 
but he died like a true Roman when all was done. 
Fate gave him but thirty-seven years of life and a 
bare three months of Empire. He bade farewell 
to both unmoved, as one who goes a journey and 
will presently return. Like Petronius, he is scornful | 
of life with a quiet contempt born of native courage./ 
For him, too, the thought of death, and of the loss 
by death of those good things of life which he has 
enjoyed to the full, cannot cast a shadow on his 
peace when the last call sounds. Like Antony, as 
he answers to that call, he makes one claim to an 
immortality of renown, if there be any such ; for 
he, too, has won the love- -of his men in surpassing 
measure. And to have won such love is not to 
have failed utterly in life after all. 

1 Plutarch. 



How oft, indeed, 
We've sent our souls out from the rigid north 

To climb the Alpine passes and look forth, 

Where booming low the Lombard rivers lead 
To gardens, vineyards, all a dream is worth. 

E. B. Browning : Casa Guidi Windows 

§ I. Vit el litis and his Army in Rome 

The first " Battle of Bedriacum " was fought on 
April 15, a.d. 69, and Otho slew himself next 
morning. The news of the victory reached his 
rival Vitellius at Lugdunum, where he was met by 
his victorious generals Caecina and Valens as well 
as by the fugitive leaders of the defeated army, 
Suetonius and Proculus. The former were suitably 
honoured by the new Emperor ; the latter, when 
they pleaded that their own treachery to Otho had 
lost him the battle, were acquitted of the charge of 
honour and received pardon. From Lugdunum 
Vitellius went on his way slowly to Rome, escorted 
by his generals, who showed him the battle-field 1 
and entertained him with gladiatorial shows at 

1 On May 24. 


Cremona and Bononia. To his large and trium- 
phant army which accompanied him was given on 
the march every license of plunder and debauchery, 
and it did not hesitate to follow the example set by 
its Emperor. 1 News speedily reached Vitellius that 
the legions of the East, under Mucianus in Syria 
and Vespasian in Judaea, had accepted the fact of 
his victory and recognised him as Emperor. His 
last anxiety, therefore, was allayed, and he gladly 
abandoned himself and his army to the full enjoy- 
ment of the sweets of power. His mercy and 
his cruelty were alike capricious. Otho's brother, 
Salvius Titianus, was pardoned. Galerius Trachalus, 
the orator, who was suspected of writing Otho's 
spirited harangues for him, happily enjoyed the 
protection of his relative Galeria, Vitellius' second 
wife. 2 But some of the centurions of the enemy's 
army, whose crime was that of military loyalty to 
their dead Prince, were executed in cold blood. 
They had not the wit of their generals to plead 
treachery as their reasonable apology. Thus dis- 
pensing favours to some and punishments to others, 
and always chiefly intent on the pleasures of the 
appetite, the glutton Emperor made his slothful 
progress to Rome. He entered the city in great 
state at the head of sixty thousand troops and a 
larger rabble of camp-followers. The troops spread 
themselves over the city, lodging where they liked 
and doing what mischief they pleased. All dis- 

1 Tac. ii. 56, 71. 

- His first wife was Petronia, now divorced and married to Dolabella — 
who was presently slain for his temerity, ii. 64. 



cipline was at an end. The officers had no control 
over the men, the men none over their appetites. 
The torrid heat of the Roman summer, the un- 
healthiness of the city, the self-indulgence of the 
troops, completed a demoralisation begun by victory 
and plunder. Many of the men encamped on the 
right bank of the Tiber, upon the low-lying plain 
of the " Vatican." This flat land, now occupied by 
the crowded " Leonine City," St. Peter's, "and the 
Papal palace, has always been notoriously un- 
healthy ; and then, when the troops new come from 
the cold north hastened without self-restraint to 
quench their raging thirst with the foul, polluted 
river water, disease took an ominous toll of life. 1 
Even regimental esprit de corps was suffering ; for 

* Vitellius, having disbanded all Otho's Praetorian 
Guards, set to work to enrol twenty new regiments 
of Guards (sixteen Praetorian cohorts and four 
Urban, each a thousand strong). The men were 
chosen at haphazard, with scant regard to their 
merit or their services, and as a result the legions 
were depleted, but no really efficient corps of 

y Guards was created to compensate for this. 2 Such 
thoughtless army reorganisation did but corrupt 
and spoil a fine force in its attempt to remedy 
an existing deficiency. Recruiting also for the 
legions was stopped, with intent to save money, 
and many of the troops were invited to accept their 
discharge from the ranks. The Gallic auxiliaries 

1 I see no reason to suppose that this disease was malaria, as suggested by 
Mr. W. H. Jones in his essay on "Malaria." This disease is not rapidly 
fatal, even to northerners 

2 Tac. ii. 93, 94. 


were sent off home, and the unruly Batavian cohorts 
despatched to Germany, there soon to kindle savage 
rebellion. Death and folly played havoc with the 
splendid Army of Germany, and at the end of six 
months' loose living in Rome it seemed to be 
going to rack and ruin. 1 

Meanwhile the Emperor played at "constitu- 
tional government," and devoted his more serious 
thoughts to problems of the palate. When he was 
at Lugdunum, it was said, men heard the roads 
which led to the city ringing with the hurrying feet 
of those who came carrying the dainties of all lands 
to whet his appetite, his " foul insatiable maw." 2 
But the capital offered him nobler opportunities of 
delicacies, and during his few months' stay in Rome 
he is said to have spent nine hundred millions of 
sesterces. 3 He had at least the merit of a con- 
sistency of taste, whether the object of his ex- 
travagance was large or small. Nero had built 
a palace for his soul's delight, famous and hated as 
the " Golden House." For it he had clothed the 
squalid slopes and dusty purlieus of the Esquiline 
with woodland glades and garden greenery, re- 
freshed them with cool waters and with quiet shade, 
and made the arid desert of Rome's hovels blossom 
as the rose. 4 Otho, the " second Nero," had added 
to its beauties and extent. Vitellius complained 
at it : he felt himself cramped by such a meagre 
habitation. But if he himself could not roam 

1 Tac. ii. 67, 69. 

2 " Epularum foeda et inexplebilis libido," ii. 62. 

3 Over ,£7,000,000. 

4 See my Life of Nero, pp. 243-247. 


afield as widely as a fitting pleasaunce might 
have suffered him, no such limits could fetter 
the activity of his mind's intelligence. A new 
recipe for hotch-potch was the child of that 
intelligence, planned on so vast imperial a scale 
that no mere potter could fashion a dish large 
enough to contain it. The silversmith alone 
succeeded where the potter failed, and his silver 
dish remained an object of wonder to succeeding 
generations until the thrifty Hadrian melted it 
down for coin. In drunkenness and revelling, in 
gluttony and foulness, the Emperor Vitellius spent 
his few months of rule. 1 And all the while his 
splendid army was decaying and its two victorious 
generals grew more jealous each of the other every 
day. " Truly it was to the State's good that 
Vitellius was vanquished." 2 

§ 2. The Gathering of the Storm 

Meanwhile heavy storm-clouds were gathering 
on the far horizon to east and to north-east. Vitel- 
lius' treatment of the victorious army was senseless 
enough, even though he believed all danger of 
further war at an end ; but his method of dealing 
with the vanquished army was not of such wisdom 
as to warrant such a belief. Some small efforts 
indeed were made to remove the defeated legions 
from the neighbourhood of Italy. The First Adju- 

1 Tac. ii. 62, 94, 95. Cf. Suetonius, Vitellius, 3, 10-13. There is 
no reason to discredit these accounts. 

- " Reipublicae haud dubie intererat Vitellium vinci," Tac. iii. 86. 


trix legion, which had fought gallantly for Otho in 
the recent battle, was sent to Spain. The veteran 
Fourteenth legion was known to be in a most 
dangerous temper. Only a detachment of the 
regiment had taken an active part in the war, and 
this had stood its ground to the last outside Cremona 
in the centre of a ring of foes. The legion as a whole 
had not been defeated, and indignantly disowned 
a share in the blame for the defeat. It was promptly 
ordered to return to its old quarters in Britain. 
At the time it lay at Turin, fretting and rebellious, 
quarrelling as usual with the ferocious Batavian 
cohorts attached to it. So anxious was the Govern- 
ment to dispose of it without the chance of further 
friction of any kind, that the Batavians were finally 
detached from it and sent off to Germany, and it 
itself was bidden avoid the town of Vienne on its 
march through Gaul. The townsfolk of this city 
had always wished Vitellius so ill that it was feared 
the legionaries might be encouraged to make a 
stand here and refuse obedience any more. Hence 
they were made to march by the Little St. Bernard 
Pass over the Graian Alps to Montmelian and 
thence, instead of pursuing the usual route by 
Grenoble to Vienne, to strike away to Chambery, 
and so direct to Lyons. 1 These prudent precau- 
tions were of avail, and the legion arrived in 
Britain. It had done no damage on the way, 
except that it had left its camp-fires burning on the 
night when it marched from Turin, and by some 

1 " Eo flexa itineris," Tac. ii. 66. The use of the modern names is 
perhaps justified for clearness' sake. 


means or other, thanks to this, part of the unlucky 
colony was burnt to the ground. This was a 
small price to pay for riddance of the legion. 
Its Batavian comrades also duly reached their 
homeland on the lower Rhine. But fortune had 
not separated the cohorts and the legion for long. 
The folly of the Roman Government had sent the 
Batavians, now proud and experienced troops, back 
to their tribesmen to add fuel to their discontent 
and strength to their plots. The " Indian Mutiny " 
of Roman history was, within a few months, the 
result. Then when the tide of massacres and 
Roman defeats at last was ebbing, and Vespasian's 
Government set grimly to work to crush the 
mutineers, the men of the Fourteenth legion came 
gleefully from oversea to take vengeance upon 
their ancient enemies and old-time false comrades 
for all the insults endured at their hands. 1 

These events were quickly to happen. But for 
the moment Vitellius had rid Italy of two of 
the " conquered legions." With this, however, 
his stock of wisdom was exhausted. The Guards 
and the Danube army had also belonged to Otho's 
strength. These he now treated with less prudence. 
The Guards were disbanded, with the exception of 
two cohorts which had done good service in helping 
to overawe the Batavians while these were still in 
camp with the Fourteenth legion at Turin. Though 
the disbandment was well managed, the cohorts 
being separated before the order was issued, and 
though the men were given the customary rewards 

1 See below, Chap. III. Cf. Tac. ii. 66. 


on retiring from the service 1 (a treatment indeed 
which was more generous than perhaps they had 
any right to expect), yet they regretted the loss of 
their career, and gladly seized the chance of taking 
up arms again, which Vespasian's rising so soon 
gave to them. These Guardsmen formed " the v 
strength of the Flavian cause." 2 If Vitellius had 
been able to retain them under arms and attach 
them by interest to his service, they might have 
forgiven and forgotten their own defeat and Otho's 
death. But the new Emperor judged that he had 
too many troops of his own. How then could he 
find room in his army for those who had fought 
against his cause ? Moreover, there was the risk 
of treachery in case of disturbance. The problem of 
dealing with Otho's Guards was certainly a delicate 
one for Vitellius, but the event did not justify the 
easy solution which pleased him. 

The Danube army was differently treated. This 
had consisted of seven legions : two in Pannonia 
(VII. Galbianaand XIII. Gemina); two in Dalmatia 
(XI. Claudia and XIV. Gemina); and three in Moesia 
(III. Gallica, VII. Claudia, and VIII. Augusta). The 
Fourteenth legion had now been sent to Britain. 
Of the other six, only the Thirteenth legion from 
Pannonia had been present at the battle of 
Bedriacum. The survivors of this regiment were 
at first set to work to build amphitheatres at 
Cremona and Bononia, in which Vitellius was to be 

1 The "honesta missio" probably carried with it the pension paid by the 
Aerarium militare. 

2 Tac. ii. 67, "robur Flavianarum partium." 


entertained when he arrived in Italy. Such work 
was inglorious, and the strain was not relieved by 
the gibing of the townsfolk who, at Cremona at 
least, sharpened their silly wits upon the vanquished 
and labouring soldiers. That merriment was pre- 
sently to be recompensed, and the men of the 
Thirteenth exacted the full price, and more, when 
autumn came. But now it was summer, and the 
soldiers performed masons' work till the buildings 
were done. Then they were sent back to their old 
headquarters in Pannonia at Poetovio (now Pettau 
on the river Drave *). Their comrades of the 
Seventh legion had preceded them on their return 
to the province at Vitellius' orders. There the 
two legions waited, nursing wrath in their hearts, 
longing for the hour of requital for Otho's defeat 
and for their damaged reputation. The Eleventh 
legion had in the same way returned to its province 
Dalmatia. It too had had no glut of fighting, and 
was ready to strive again. 2 

But the three Moesian legions, the Third, 
the Seventh, and the Eighth, were bolder, and 
refused any parleyings with their triumphant rivals, 
the men of the German army. They were in full 
strength, marching for Aquileia, standing, as it were, 
on the very threshold of the war, at the moment 
when the battle was being fought at Cremona a few 
miles to the west. Had they come so far to find 
the door shut violently in their very faces upon all 
their hopes of merry battle and the soldier's sure 
reward ? Messengers came bringing the tidings of 

1 Tac. iii. I. 2 Tac. ii. 67, 86 ; cf. iii. 32. 



Otho's defeat. They chased them roughly from 
the lines, and hastened forward to the frontier town 
as if scornful of the rumour of disaster. Colours 
were found bearing Vitellius' name. They rent 
them in pieces. If they had not enjoyed the fight- 
ing, at least they would not forgo the plunder. 
They seized on the legions' military chests, broke 
them open, and divided up the money. They 
sought spoils on every hand. They were in the 
enemy's land, and as the enemy's land it should be 
treated. Vitellius was leading his placid and gross 
life at Rome. Caecina and Valens were contend- 
ing there for the prize of greater honour at their 
master's hands. But on the north-east frontier of 
Italy were three legions, which still defied them 
all, and formed the centre for the gathering storm. 
News reached the legionaries from the distant East. 
The Empire was not at peace. The provinces did not 
all rest quiet under Vitellius' rule. It was but the 
German army which had won him the victory. The 
great army of the Eastern frontier would acquiesce 
no more in a triumph so lightly won, would accept 
no longer so despicable an Emperor. Vespasian had 
risen. Mucianus, Governor of Syria ; Alexander, 
prefect of Egypt ; all the kings, princes, peoples, 
and soldiers of the Eastern Empire were leagued 
together under his banner against the glutton, the 
puppet nominee of the savage German army. The 
legions at Aquileia heard the news and embraced 
the opportunity. They had disowned allegiance 
to Vitellius : this then might be counted loyalty 
to Vespasian their Prince. They had plundered 


Italy: this was clearly a land hostile to his 
cause. With speed they sent to their com- 
rades in Pannonia. The Seventh legion, swayed 
by desire for revenge and by the promptings of 
their legate, Antonius Primus, gladly answered to 
the call. The Thirteenth legion had still better 
reason to join the growing army. The Dalmatian 
army, the Eleventh legion, hesitated. But the 
Army of the Danube was so far united that five 
legions were ready to strike in Vespasian's name 
against their old enemies and conquerors. Letters 
were at once sent to the other remnants of Otho's 
army. Surely they would not now hold back from 
the cause which had revived again. The First 
legion in Spain, the Fourteenth in Britain, received 
from their old comrades the news of the great rising 
and the call to arms. Manifestoes were scattered 
broadcast through Gaul. The little cloud in the 
East had become a rushing tempest. " In the 
twinkling of an eye the flame of a mighty war leapt 
up." The banner of the Flavian cause was waving 
on the north-eastern frontier of Italy. 1 

Flavius Vespasianus, the general then busy 
with the Jewish war, was at this time nearly 
sixty years old. Neither his age nor his blunt 
soldierly character of good-humoured common sense 
encouraged him to embark upon so desperate an 
enterprise as that of challenging Vitellius, the 
Emperor now recognised in Italy and Rome, for his 
Imperial power. Vespasian had survived the shock 

1 " Momento temporis flagrabat ingens belluni," Tac. ii. 86; cf. ii. 85. 
Suetonius, Vespasian, 6. 

From a bust in the Museo Nazionale, Naples. 


which his untimely gift of sleep had once given 
to Nero's artistic sensibilities. 1 He had placidly 
accepted Galba as his Prince, and sent his elder son 
Titus from Judaea to do the old Emperor homage on 
his father's behalf. He was not inclined to quarrel 
with Otho, and his army in due course took the 
oath of fidelity to him. Even Vitellius' victory had 
been recognised in the same way. Left to himself, 
Vespasian might well have been content to smoke 
out the hornets' nest in Judaea, whatever prince 
ruled at Rome. The burning of the Capitol at 
Rome might have been spared, and the burning of 
Jerusalem have been the chief glory of the Flavian 
leader, not of Titus his son. But the Fates of the 
Roman Empire pressed hard upon him. Every 
influence was brought to bear to move his caution 
and provoke him to defy Vitellius. His own 
army and the great Army of Syria demanded the 
right to challenge the insolent troops of Germany 
for the mastery. Mucianus, Governor of Syria, who 
had become his close friend through Titus' willing 
offices, was instant in his urging that not even safety 
could now be won save by accepting the last risk, 
and promised him his powerful support. Men 
worked upon that superstition which in him was so 
curiously interwoven with a hardy scepticism and 
healthy vigour of thought — a purple strand in a 
thick grey robe. The towering cypress tree which 
rose above the ancestral mountain -farm in far-off 
Samnium, and in Vespasian's youthful days had 
fallen only to rise again the following day more 

1 See my Life of Nero > p. 380. 


green, more beautiful, and all unhurt ; the statue of 
the murdered Julius at Rome, which, as Galba's 
star was setting, turned to face the rising sun ; the 
two eagles which, before the armies clashed 
together on the battle - field of Bedriacum, were 
seen contending in the air, when, behold, from 
the eastern quarter of the heavens a third came 
speeding and chased the victor from his victory, — 
how could omens such as these, remembered from 
the past or carried to his credulous ear by eager 
faithful friends, how could they be mockeries with- 
out meaning? His Jewish captive, Josephus, was 
always whispering promises of coming Empire to 
his master. The very gods of the mysterious land 
which he held in iron grip knew of his coming 
glory. Again, there was an altar built on Mount 
Carmel to the unknown, unseen God ; again, the 
priest stood to offer sacrifice upon it, and the Deity 
vouchsafed his answer, not now by fire from heaven 
to confound the impious, but by quiet promise 
through the priestly assurance that the Roman 
general who stood with hidden thoughts offering 
the sacrifice should have full fruition of his secret 
hopes. 1 That nothing should be lacking to rouse 
Vespasian to put his fate to the touch, letters were, 
it was said, brought to him, purporting to be 
written by Otho in the brief time between his 
defeat and death, commanding him to take venge- 

1 This extraordinary tale finds a place in both Tacitus and Suetonius. It 
evidently made a deep impression on the Roman mind, which always loved to 
toy unintelligently with Jewish rites and mysteries. The very priest's name — 
Basilides — is given. For the omens in general, of which I give only a selec- 
tion, cf. Tacitus, ii. 78 ; Suetonius, Vespasian, 5. 


ance on the victor for his Emperor's ruin, and 
imploring him to help the State in its bitter need. 
Still the general hesitated, counting the strength 
and valour of the legions of Germany. How could 
he pit his own less war-worn troops against those 
tlushed with so notable a victory ? But his friends' 
impatience brooked no longer delay ; his soldiers' 
enthusiasm for their general cast for him the 
decisive throw. Tiberius Alexander, prefect of 
Egypt, proclaimed Vespasian Emperor to his troops 
at Alexandria on July 1. His own army acclaimed 
him Emperor on the 3rd, and the three legions of 
Syria, with Mucianus the Governor, saluted the 
name and ensign of the new Prince a fortnight 
later. How the Danube army welcomed the news 
has been related. The fire of revolt was kindled 
again on the frontiers of Italy. 

§ 3. Flavian Plans of War 
A. The Muster of the Eastern Army. — Even 
apart from the six legions on the north-eastern 
frontier of Italy which had declared for him, 
Vespasian's army in the East was a truly formidable 
one. In Syria were the three legions — the Fourth 
Scythica, Sixth Ferrata, and Twelfth Fulminata. 
The fourth legion which properly belonged to this 
province was the Third Gallica, but this had 
recently been sent to Moesia, and was now with 
the other troops of Moesia at Aquileia. 1 It was 

1 Hence Tacitus speaks loosely of the Syrian legions as four : " Quattuor 
Mucianus obtinebat in pace " (ii. 4), and counts the Third Gallica as one of the 
'•novem legiones integrae e Judaea et Suria et Aegypto " (ii. 76), for there 
were three legions in Judaea and two in Egypt. 


indeed a curious chance that a habit acquired by 
this legion during its stay in Syria should help 
largely to decide the issue of the desperate battle 
which was soon to be fought in the plain of the Po. 1 
The Syrian legions were as devoted to Vespasian's 
cause as were his own veteran troops in Judaea, 
not only because they felt themselves part of the 
whole Army of the East, whose interests were not 
divisible, but also because Mucianus in his guile 
had warned them that it was Vitellius' intention to 
remove them to the German frontier, and to send 
his own legions of Germany to enjoy the climate 
and luxuries of Syria in their stead. The mere 
thought of the bleak north, of the savage wilds of 
the German marches and their barbarian inhabitants, 
of the black forests and cold, wind-swept marshes, 
of the unceasing toil and pitiless, inclement weather, 
which were the unfailing lot of those encamped 
upon the Rhine, and the contrast of it all with their 
own peaceful, happy life under the warm Syrian 
sun, amid the groves and fountains, the thronging, 
busy streets and booths, the never-ceasing merri- 
ments and festivals of Antioch, excited in the 
breasts of the legionaries of Syria the direst feelings 
of resentment against the Emperor at Rome." 
Very reasonably Vespasian might count all the 
Syrian legions as " his own." 

Equally eager, splendidly disciplined, and better 
acquainted with their general were the three 
legions in Judaea — the Fifth Macedonica, Tenth 
Fretensis, and Fifteenth Apollinaris. These had 

1 Tac. iii. 24. See below, p. 202. 2 Tac. ii. 80. 


borne with him the burden of the ferocious Jewish 
war, a struggle stained by every horror that the 
savagery and brutality of the religious fanatic could 
devise. Weary marches, desperate sieges, merci- 
less pursuits, had led the veteran troops at last 
within sight of the goal of the bitter enterprise, and 
only the walls and precipices of Jerusalem itself 
still defied the Roman arms. There is small 
wonder that the soldiers in Judaea would follow the 
general who had redeemed the Roman honour and 
redressed disgrace, who had given them unfailing 
victory and immeasurable spoil, even to the gates 
of Rome itself with devotion and proud confidence. 1 
The two legions in Egypt — the Third Cyrenaica 
and Twenty - second Deiotariana — brought the 
number of the legions of Vespasian's Army of the 
East to eight. But in addition to the legionaries 
there were to be counted the auxiliary forces of the 
Roman provinces and subject princes of the Eastern 
Empire. Sohaemus, Prince of Sophene (the strip 
of land which borders Upper Euphrates on its 
eastern bank and surrounds the sources of the 
Tigris), came with his native levies. Antiochus, 
King of Commagene (the district on the great river 
wedged in between the Roman provinces of Syria 
on the south and Cappadocia on the north), who 
was the richest of the princes of the East owning 
Roman overlordship, offered Vespasian the resources 
of his kingdom. Herod Agrippa II., ruler of Peraea, 
was secretly summoned from Rome, to which he 
had gone in the early part of the year, and sailed 

1 " Miles ipsi adeo paratus," Tac. ii. 74. 


swiftly back to Syria, leaving Yitellius ignorant of 
his flight from the city. His sister and Queen, the 
beautiful Berenice, then " at the height of her 
beauty," l eagerly embraced the Flavian cause. 
Titus, still an impressionable youth at twenty-eight, 
was young enough to be enamoured of her mature 
charms ; Vespasian was old and wise enough to be 
pleased by the magnificence of her gifts. There 
was, finally, no portion of the Roman world from 
Greece to Armenia, from Egypt to the Black Sea, 
which did not swear allegiance to Vespasian. New 
troops were levied. The veterans were recalled to 
the standards. The mint at Antioch poured out 
new gold and silver. Cities rang with the clank of 
hammers and the forging of arms. The rich con- 
tributed their wealth of free will or compulsion. 
And the chiefs of the party, the officers and more 
experienced veterans of the army, the princes of 
the East with brilliant retinues, gathered together 
at Berytus for a council of war. The massing of 
the infantry and cavalry, the emulous rivalry of the 
royal pomp and trains, made the Syrian seaport 
indeed present the appearance of a city of the 
Imperial Court. 2 

B. The Council of War at Berytus: the "Strategy 
of Exhaustion." — The council of war, assembled 
at Berytus to discuss and choose a strategy for the 
coming campaign, had to take into account not only 
the distance between the Syrian army and Italy, 

1 Her first husband (and uncle), Herod, Prince of Chalcis, had died twenty 
years before this. But the Romans in the matter of beauty were Venetian 
rather than Florentine or English in taste. 

2 Tac. ii. 8 1. 


but also that between it and the Army of the 
Danube. The Flavian forces were strong and 
their resources adequate ; but they were in two 
widely separated halves, and, moreover, the un- 
finished Jewish war could not be neglected. John 
of Gischala and the Zealots were not men to wait 
upon Vespasian's convenience. But the council 
was confident that their numbers were large enough 
for both wars. Happily, there was no other danger 
on the Eastern frontier. The kings of Armenia 
and Parthia alike were friendly to the Flavian cause, 
and the latter, King Vologeses, the hero of the 
great struggle with Rome in the days of the 
Emperor Nero, actually made Vespasian the offer 
of forty thousand Parthian cavalry, the most famous 
horsemen in the world, to help him against his 
enemies. Nothing serves so forcibly to illustrate 
the wisdom of Nero's final solution of the problem 
of the Eastern frontier as does this peace on that 
frontier during the Roman civil wars. It was 
exactly the time when the Parthian might have 
been expected to take advantage of the discord 
which was rending in twain the strength of his 
hereditary enemy. But neither Vologeses, nor his 
brother Tiridates in Armenia, showed any desire 
to break the peace and friendship recently secured 
by the Neronian policy. The Flavian leaders could 
therefore devote part of their forces in the East to 
quell the rebellion of the Jews, and could direct the 
rest to Italy undisturbed by any fear of an invasion 
of the frontier or of a sudden attack upon their rear. 
Titus and the greater part of the Army of the East 



were set apart to end the Jewish war. This policy- 
determined, the council turned its thoughts to the 
war with Vitellius. 1 

Vespasian himself, it was decided, should not 
conduct the campaign in person. He departed to 
Egypt to seize and secure firmly the " keys of the 
country," Alexandria and Pelusium. No corn-ship 
could sail thence to Italy without his pleasure. 
From Egypt as a base he intended to proceed by- 
sea and land against the other granary of Rome, 
the province of Africa. By this means he thought 
that the enemy in Italy could be put to great 
distress, and that discord would be the result of it, 
even though no single Flavian soldier had set foot 
in Italy. 2 Meanwhile, Mucianus was to march by 
land through Asia to the Bosporus. The best ships 
of the Pontic fleet, forty in number, were summoned 
to Byzantium to effect and secure the passage of 
his army. Mucianus himself led the van of the 
column, consisting of light armed troops ; but there 
followed as its main strength the Sixth legion and 
thirteen thousand veterans besides. At Byzantium 
he halted, hesitating between two strategies. 2 

Two plans of campaign, in fact, seem to have 
been considered by the Flavian leaders. The first 
was that of offence pure and simple. In pursuit 
of this strategy, Mucianus should march from 

1 Tac. ii. 82; iv. 51. Jerusalem was not taken and destroyed by Titus 
until September a. d. 70. 

2 Tac. ii. 82 ; iii. 8, 48. 

3 Tac. ii. 82, 83 ; iii. 47. The withdrawal of the ships and the Roman 
troops in the province to join Mucianus' column gave the opportunity for a 
local rising in Pontus, which was, however, easily suppressed by a small force 
sent later for the purpose by Vespasian (iii. 47, 4S). 


Byzantium by the well-known military road, the 
Via Egnatia, through Macedonia to the seaport of 
Dyrrhachium on the Adriatic. There, if he had 
the ships to cross to Italy, he could threaten a 
landing at any one of the harbours within reach as 
opportunity offered. Not only Brundisium, the 
Dover of Italy, lay opposite and open to his land- 
ing, but Tarentum, and all the coast-line of Lucania 
and Calabria were equally exposed to a hostile 
descent. Vitellius would be in sore perplexity, not 
knowing how to guard so long a coast -line, and 
already threatened on his north-east frontier by the 
Danube army. If he sent his troops to defend the 
line of the Po or the Julian Alps, which lay to the 
east of Aquileia, surely then Mucianus could make 
a dash on Southern Italy, even on Rome itself; for 
the road over the Apennines from Brundisium to 
Capua and the capital had been used before now 
by many an army. If, on the contrary, Vitellius 
massed his troops round Rome, he surrendered all 
North Italy to the Danube army, and with it the 
courage and confidence of his men. If he divided 
his army and sent one half northwards, keeping the 
other to watch the coast, his resistance to the 
vigorous attack on both sides was likely to be but 
an enfeebled one. The march to Dyrrhachium 
from Byzantium involved the strategy of offence 
and co - operation between the Danube and the 
Eastern army. 

But this was not the strategy which Vespasian 
himself wished his troops to adopt. He preferred 
to rely upon slower means for exhausting and 


wearing out the enemy. If his own strategy were 
followed, Mucianus was to march from Byzantium 
by the valleys of the Moritza and Morava through 
Moesia, and up the valley of the Drave through 
Pannonia and over the Julian Alps to Aquileia. The 
Army of the Danube was to wait there until Muci- 
anus arrived. So the whole Flavian force would 
be concentrated to threaten Italy on the north-east, 
and meanwhile all supplies of corn to the enemy 
would be cut off by Vespasian's activity in Egypt 
and in Africa. Hunger and despair, the would-be 
emperor hoped, would do the work. The Vitellians, 
starved and desperate, would submit without fight- 
ing. The strategy of exhaustion and combination, 
not that of offence and co-operation, should be 
employed. And at Byzantium Mucianus definitely 
chose this plan. He sent bidding the Danube 
army not to move from its lines at Aquileia, and 
marched himself with his whole force for that city. 1 
The other strategy, that of offence, was indeed 
attractive. The plan of a "double objective" 
always perplexes the enemy, and when skilfully 
used, as by the Japanese in the war of 1894, mav 
always lead to notable successes. Such a plan was 
involved in this Flavian strategy of offence. But 
apart from its greater risks, which might well have 
been ventured, two difficulties in its way were 
serious. From the middle of July to the middle 
of August the prevailing wind in the Adriatic is 
that from the north-west, and this greatly hampered 
naval operations from Dyrrhachium as a base. A 

1 Tac. ii. 83 ; iii. 8. 


still more weighty objection was the fact that the 
command of the sea was as yet by no means en- 
sured to the Flavians. About the very time that 
the plan of invasion oversea was being discussed at 
Berytus, a Flavian general, at the council of war 
held by the officers of the Danube army at Poetovio, 
pointed out that the enemy had two fleets, those of 
Ravenna and Misenum, and that these might easily 
take the offensive by sea, for there was no Flavian 
fleet in the Adriatic to stop them. At the outset 
of the campaign, indeed, the command of the sea 
rested with the Vitellians. It is true that the 
Ravenna fleet quickly proved treacherous to their 
cause ; but its coming treachery was not an element 
in the strategical situation on which plans could be 
built, or by which strategy could be determined, 
either at Berytus or at Poetovio. In old days Sulla 
had crushed the democrats at Rome by his strategy 
of attack oversea from Dyrrhachium. Later in the 
century, Julius Caesar, for fear lest the like strategy 
should be used by Pompey against him, had been 
forced to risk the passage of the Adriatic in face of 
the enemy's superiority at sea, and to seek out his 
foe in Epirus. Still later, Antony had threatened 
Octavian with the same strategy. But both Sulla 
and Pompey had had command of the Adriatic. 
Antony had been master of a powerful fleet. 
Mucianus neither possessed the command of the 
sea, nor had as yet any means of gathering a fleet 
to secure it. The familiar strategy of offence by 
sea had therefore to be abandoned by him. 1 

1 Cf. Tac. ii. 98 ; iii. 2 ; Annals, vi. 55. Pliny, Nat. Hist. ii. 124. 


But it by no means followed as a consequence 
that no strategy of offence could be tried. Ves- 
pasian's proposed "strategy of exhaustion" deserved 
hearty condemnation. Apparently he intended his 
army at Aquileia to do nothing, even after Mucianus 
and his force had joined the Danube legions there. 
The Vitellians were to be starved into submission 
and blockaded during the process on the north-east 
frontier. From a political point of view it might 
be urged that this plan would save bloodshed. 
From a military point of view there was nothing to 
be said for it at all. Many losses have been caused, 
many campaigns well-nigh ruined, by the interfer- 
ence of the politician with the conduct of military 
operations. Virginia, Natal, the Yalu, have all 
recently enforced again this lesson, which is as old 
as the history of war. But Vespasian hitherto had 
been far more of a soldier than a statesman, and his 
plans for the campaign against Vitellius remain all 
the more a puzzle ; for how could it be expected 
that this "strategy of exhaustion" would end the 
war in his favour ? Sextus Pompeius had tried the 
plan of starving Italy before now, but Octavian had 
defied even this risk ; and Octavian was far less 
popular with his troops than was Vitellius with his 
army, which was still devoted to his interests. The 
civilian in Italy might suffer if no corn-ships came 
from the South ; but the soldier would find a way, 
even at the civilian's expense, to feed himself. And 
not even to-day are the issues of war decided by 
the clamour of civilians ; still less would this have 
been the case during the civil war of a.d. 69. 


Neither was Italy so barren of food, so dependent 
on sea-borne corn, so pitifully unable to feed her 
own children, as England is to-day. The proleta- 
riate in Rome might have felt the pinch of need, 
and its anger was doubtless dangerous enough to 
an emperor in Rome ; but there was no need 
(other than the excellence of the palace kitchen) 
for Vitellius to stay in the city and listen trembling 
to the howling of the hungry mob. There is no 
evidence that the corn from Egypt or Africa was 
necessary for any place save Rome, or even ever 
sent up country at all. Italy fed herself even 
though Rome starved. There was no transport 
for corn, no commerce in corn, from Rome to the 
other districts of the land any more in a.d. 69 than 
there was in the days of the Gracchi. Vespasian's 
" strategy of exhaustion " was not in the least likely 
to exhaust the Vitellian army. Its ultimate base of 
supplies was still the western part of the Empire, 
Germany and Gaul. Neither Vespasian in Egypt 
nor Mucianus at Aquileia threatened in any way 
the safety of the enemy's communications with the 
lands which were still the source of their strength, 
the place of replenishment for their resources. The 
strategy of masterly inactivity, if pursued in this way 
by the Flavians, would not discourage the temper 
of the Army of Germany. They, after all, were the 
men in possession. Rome and Italy were the sign 
of Empire, the crown of conquest. It must be the 
Flavians' part to attack and evict, for theirs had 
been the challenge. If they rested quiet, the Vi- 
tellian army in high scorn might take the initiative 


themselves. They, by means of the fleet, might 
descend upon the motionless force at Aquileia, land 
in their rear, and cut them off hopelessly from their 
base and line of retreat, while the Vitellians could 
always use the fleet as a base. The value of the 
possession of the strategical initiative in war cannot 
be set too high. The force which possesses the 
command of the sea is the more likely to possess 
this initiative if numbers are equal ; and, possess- 
ing it, such a force compels the enemy to make 
his dispositions conform to its own plans for 
the campaign. But the Flavians, if the attacking 
party, might seize at the outset the strategical 
initiative, thanks to the fact that a large army lay 
already on the frontier of the enemy's country when 
the war broke out, whereas the defending army was 
slowly moving north from Rome. If they let the 
opportunity slip, the initiative would naturally pass 
to the Vitellians. The " strategy of exhaustion," 
which would have been no exhaustion at all of the 
Vitellians, wilfully abandoned this the Flavian great 
military opportunity. It made a present of the 
strategical initiative to the foe. This strategy, 
in fact, is appropriate only to the weaker side, 
and then under very special conditions. Fabius 
Maximus used it at a crisis and saved Rome. But 
it was not this strategy which gave Rome at last 
the victory in the second Punic war. Pericles 
used it against the Peloponnesians, and thereby 
ran the ship of State hard on the rocks, whence 
more skilful pilots had to rescue it. Frederick the 
Great saved his kingdom by its use, and had indeed 


no other choice. But the quarrel was not of his 
seeking, and his prize of victory was not conquest 
but his country's preservation. Such a strategy 
might have been appropriate to the Vitellians : the 
choice of it by the Flavians, whose part it was 
to conquer, not to preserve, must have gone far 
to ruin their cause. The Danube army meant to 
fight. Were they to be told that fighting was too 
dangerous ? For what other purpose were they 
at Aquileia ? — To wait attack by the hated foe ? 
To be cut off by an enemy landing from the sea 
in their rear, and a chain of fortresses in a hostile 
land to their front ? Roman war is fought with 
men, not with automata. The Flavian was the 
challenger. He had flung down the gauntlet. 
Was he to retire to his tent until the other 
champion came to turn him out with ignominy, 
scarcely leaving him time to mount his lazy steed ? 

Offensive strategy alone can quickly end a war. The passive 
attitude may eventually induce the weary enemy to seek for 
peace ; it can never produce the same effect as the offensive 
crowned with tactical victory. Hence in strategy the defensive 
should never be assumed except as a temporary measure, or by 
the weaker side, to be changed to the offensive as soon as 
opportunity offers. A nation which declares war and acts on 
the defensive shows that it does not understand the condition 
most essential for success. 1 

Whether in reality this " strategy of exhaustion " 
would have been pursued by Mucianus after his 
arrival at Aquileia or not cannot be determined ; 
for despite his orders sent to the Danube army 

1 James, Modern Strategy, pp. 41, 42. 


there, and long before his arrival, this had taken 
the bit in its teeth and charged furiously upon the 

C. The Council of War at Poetovio : the "Strategy 
of Annihilation." — While at Berytus Vespasian and 
Mucianus were discussing plans for the war, the 
officers of the Danube army met at Poetovio, the 
town near the western frontier of the province of 
Pannonia, to deliberate on their own account. The 
actual governors of the three provinces — Pannonia, 
Dalmatia, and Moesia — took but a small part in 
the council and in the military operations which 
followed. The Legate of Pannonia, Lucius Tampius 
Flavianus, does indeed seem to have been present, 
and he presently accompanied the army of invasion 
as far as Verona ; but he was cautious by nature, 
old in years, and, moreover, a kinsman of Vitellius, 
and at first, when the disturbance began in Pan- 
nonia, fled hastily to Italy to be out of the way of 
danger. The persuasions of Cornelius Fuscus, 
procurator of the province, induced him to return. 
The procurator desired for his party the prestige 
attaching to the name of one who had been consul ; 
the governor hoped to pluck some profit from the 
rebellion. But the troops naturally mistrusted him, 
and at Verona they made an excited attack upon 
him, which nearly cost him his life, and got rid of 
him away from the army for good and all. 1 Marcus 
Pompeius Silvanus, Governor of Dalmatia, was, like 

1 Tac. ii. 86 ; iii. 4, 10. Cf. Fliny, Nat. Hist. ix. 26. He was consul 
about a.d. 46 and again under Vespasian in 74. He seems to have given his 
name to the ala I. Pannoniorum Tampiana, C.I.L. iii. p. S64. 


Tampius, old, rich, and more of a financier than a 
general. He certainly was not of any weight in 
the council, if present ; for the one legion of his 
province, the Eleventh Claudia, was still hesitating, 
and, in fact, the legion and its governor appeared in 
the Flavian camp only after the first great victory 
had been won and Cremona had fallen. These 
were incidents which relieved the anxiety of general 
and private concerning the probable issue of the 
struggle, but gave them matter for anxious thought 
concerning their reception in the victors' camp if 
they delayed longer to join them. Silvanus, a man 
" apt to waste in words the hour for deeds, and a 
sluggard in war," was wholly ruled by the legate 
of the Eleventh legion, Annius Bassus, who by 
judicious deference to the old governor won his 
assent to all his own plans and carried them out 
quietly and ably. 1 Thus neither Tampius nor 
Silvanus added any strength to the Flavian cause 
except the lustre of their names and the benefit 
of their actual insignificance. The third of the 
three legates, M. Aponius Saturninus, Governor of 
Moesia, was absent from the council of war. He 
had indeed written hurriedly to Vitellius the news 
that the Third legion in Moesia had mutinied 
against his authority. Later, however, he had seen 
fit to follow the lead of his troops, and declare for 
Vespasian, and early in the campaign he appeared 
in the Flavian camp with one of the three legions 
of his province, the Seventh Claudia. But some 

1 Silvanus: consul a.d. 45. Cf. Tac. ii. 86; iii. 50; iv. 47 ; Annals, 
xiii. 52. In 74 he was consul again with Tampius. 


letters which he was supposed to have written to 
Vitellius were one day published in the camp, and 
the fiery and suspicious troops indignantly joined 
in an eager hunt for the traitor through the 
gardens where he was staying. Aponius saved 
his life by hiding promptly in the furnace of some 
disused baths, and, when the storm blew over, 
retired to Padua and took no further part in the 
war. 1 It was not to such time-servers as an 
Aponius, a Tampius, a Silvanus, that Vespasian 
owed his Empire. Three men of lower rank, 
whose military energy was spoilt by no politic 
caution, whose zeal on his behalf was hampered 
by no considerations of their own dignity, swayed 
the counsels of the Danube army and led irresolu- 
tion captive to daring. 

Cornelius Fuscus, the procurator of Pannonia, 
had as a mere youth preferred the Imperial Civil 
Service to the Senatorial career which, as a lad 
of good family, he would naturally have followed. 
Renouncing the rank to which his birth entitled 
him, he chose the career which, if of less repute, 
gave greater opportunities of a fortune. But the 
tempestuous days of the civil wars afforded him 
chances of action which he loved better even than 
money-making. To him, now in the vigour of his 
early manhood, battle was a delight, risk more 
joyous than certainty, peril than the rewards of 
peril. His services in the war won him honour 
and promotion. Under Domitian he was prefect 
of the Praetorian Guard, and he perished at the 

1 Tac. ii. 96 ; iii. 5,9, II. 


head of his troops, trapped and destroyed by the 
barbarians in the second Dacian war of a.d. 89. x 

Arrius Varus was probably an older man, but 
the military experience which he had gained while 
serving under Corbulo in the Parthian war twelve 
years before served him in good stead. The 
rapidity with which the column of invasion swept 
down upon North Italy showed that he had not 
forgotten the lessons taught him in the field by his 
old master in the art of war. 2 His very success 
earned for him, later, Mucianus' suspicion, and he 
had to suffer degradation from the office of Prae- 
torian prefect, which had been his reward, being 
given instead the inferior position of prefect of the 
Corn Supply. 3 

Such energy was exhibited also in an equal, 
if not in still larger, measure by the third of the 
three leaders, M. Antonius Primus. This officer 
is the hero of the successful Flavian invasion 
of Italy. His earlier career, indeed, did him 
little credit. Eight years before, he had been 
condemned at law as one of the witnesses to a 
forged will ; but Galba had restored him to his 
senatorial rank and given him the command of his 
new legion, the Seventh Galbiana. Antonius had 
a happy confidence in his own ability, and men said 
that he had written to Otho offering himself as 
general-in-chief for his war with Vitellius. That 
Emperor was already plagued by too many general 
officers, and took no notice of the offer. But now 

1 Tac. ii. 86 ; iii. 4, 12, 42 ; iv. 4. Suetonius, Domitian, 6. 

2 Tac. iii. 6 ; Annals, xiii. 9. 3 Tac. iv. 68. 


at last Antonius' chance was come. He was an 
able speaker, and, when the news of Vespasian's 
rising reached Pannonia, he at once harangued the 
troops on behalf of the Flavian general, and that 
in no ambiguous terms. Others might strive to 
face both ways, but Antonius was impatient of such 
shallow cowardice. The blunt soldiers found in 
him a man after their own heart. His unscrupulous 
dexterity might bring disgrace upon his rivals ; he 
might rob with the one hand and fling money 
broadcast with the other ; but he was a stalwart 
soldier who knew his own mind, and if he advertised 
his own merits, at least they were merits which his 
fellow-soldier loved, and he really possessed them. 
The men of the Seventh legion knew that they 
had found a man to lead them, however hazardous 
the enterprise, and were impatient of any other 
general. 1 

When such officers met in council at Poetovio, 
it is not surprising that a vigorous strategy found 
favour. There were indeed some who urged that 
they were bound to wait for the arrival of Mucianus 
and their comrades of the Syrian army. They 
dwelt upon the strength, the fame, the recent 
victory, of the enemy. Their own position, they 
urged, could easily be made impregnable against 
attack until the reinforcements came. The high 
road from Poetovio by Emona and Nauportus to 
Aquileia, a hundred and fifty miles away, had to 
cross the mountain chain of the " Pannonian Alps " 
to the north of the Istrian promontory. The 

1 Tac. ii. 86 ; iii. 3,11; Annals, xiv. 40. 


passes of the ridge, they argued, could be blocked, 
and their army would then rest in safety under 
cover of the mountains. " Conquered troops," they 
asserted, alluding to the recent defeat which some 
of their army had suffered at Bedriacum, " may talk 
as boldly as they please, but they have not the 
courage of their conquerors for all that." 

A fiery speech by Antonius consumed this 
advocacy of delay in a moment. The council of 
war was held in open air, and the centurions and 
even private soldiers came thronging up to assist 
the deliberations of their officers. Antonius' clear 
loud voice rang through the camp, and he carried 
even the more cautious away by his fierce eloquence. 
In bitter terms he described the demoralisation of 
the Vitellian soldiery. " Scattered through the 
townships of Italy and no longer under arms, 
sluggard guests dreaded only by their hosts, drain- 
ing the cup of new, strange pleasures with a wild 
zest, a zest as great as was that rude ferocity which 
once was theirs and was theirs no longer, these 
erstwhile soldiers of Vitellius had lost their hardi- 
ness in the circus, the theatre, the allurements of 
the capital. Yes, but they were soldiers still. 
Give them but time, and the very thought of war 
would brace them again to valour. Germany and 
Gaul, Britain and Spain, Italy and Rome itself, 
would send out new armies to fill their ranks. 
Nor would their own position be safe behind the 
ramparts of the mountains. Vitellius' fleets com- 
manded the Adriatic, and it would be easy to land 
an army in their rear. Where then would be the 


service of their delay, and where the food and 
money for the troops if they lay idle till next year's 
summer came ? They had not been defeated, but 
tricked into submission. The day for vengeance 
for this trickery was come. Their comrades of the 
Moesian army had lost no single man. What did 
it matter that they were inferior in legionaries ? 
In discipline, in sobriety, in very numbers, if 
men of every arm were counted, they had the 
mastery of the foe. Above all, in cavalry lay their 
own great strength. In the battle lately fought 
two little squadrons had charged and broken the 
enemy's line. Were these defeated troops ? But 
now sixteen squadrons of horse would overwhelm 
with the thunder of the onset of their serried ranks, 
would bury beneath the rushing wave of their 
furious charge, horses and horsemen forgetful of 
battle. Keep back the legions," he cried, turning 
scornfully to the advocates of caution ; " keep back 
the legions, you who risk nothing by defeat, 1 and 
give me the cohorts only. 2 I have planned, and I 
will carry out the plan. You will be glad enough 
to follow in my steps when the victory is won." 3 

After such a speech there was no room left for 
moderate counsels. The soldiers cheered " their 
one and only leader " to the echo, and the council 
broke up intent on an immediate advance into Italy. 
A message was sent to Aponius Saturninus bidding 
him hasten to bring the Moesian army into the 

1 " Quibus fortuna in integro est," i.e. who have not compromised them- 
selves fatally with Vitellius, but still hope to be able to sit on the fence. 
- I.e. the auxiliaries. 
3 Tac. iii. 1-3. 


field. 1 Certain precautions also were taken to 
ensure the safety of the northern frontier when the 
provinces south of the Danube were stripped bare 
of troops. There was, in fact, danger all along the 
Danube frontier. West of Pannonia lay the dis- 
trict of Noricum, which was threatened by the 
procurator of Raetia, who was firmly loyal to 
Vitellius. On the north of Pannonia, occupying 
the district north of the Danube between the rivers 
March and Waag, lay the tribe of the Suebi, ruled 
by two princes jointly, Sido and Italicus. Though 
vaguely in the sphere of Roman influence the 
Suebi were practically independent of Rome. The 
Danube, after flowing in an easterly direction for 
many miles, turns abruptly to the south at a point 
about a hundred and forty miles east of Vienna, 
and continues on the southerly course for not far 
short of two hundred miles. This reach of the river 
formed the eastern boundary of Pannonia. Some 
fifty or sixty miles to the east of it the Theiss flows 
parallel to the Danube, and joins it from the north 
after the greater river has turned eastwards again. 

1 Tacitus, whose account of the P'lavian invasion is far more satisfactory 
than that of the war of Otho and Vitellius, leaves us, however, in great 
perplexity as to the actual position of the three Moesian legions at this time. 
In April they have already "entered Aquileia" (ii. 46), and are there when 
they refuse allegiance to Vitellius, " Aquileiam progressae " (ii. 85). But 
the council of war at Poetovio sends bidding Saturninus " cum exercitu 
Moe.^ico celeraret " (Hi. 5), and Antonius' first act is to occupy Aquileia 
with his auxiliaries (iii. 6). When he moves on to Verona, it is some days 
before the Moesian army joins him there (iii. 9), and then they arrive in two 
detachments, the Seventh legion first, and then the Third and Eighth (iii. 
9, 10). It is possible that they were at Aquileia all the time, as Vespasian 
appoints this town for the general rendezvous (iii. 8). But iii. 5 seems to 
imply that they had withdrawn again to Moesia. Tacitus, however, never 
tells us this directly, and this is characteristic of the looseness of his military 



The strip of land between the Danube and the 
Theiss, some two hundred miles therefore in 
length, was occupied by a tribe of Sarmatian stock, 
the Jazyges, which always maintained its independ- 
ence of the Roman Empire even after Trajan's 
conquest of Dacia many years later. A tribe of 
hardy horsemen, they could defy any attempt of 
the slow-moving legionary to subdue them in their 
native wilds. East of the Jazyges, north of the 
Danube and the province of Moesia, lay the power- 
ful and restless tribesmen of the Dacians, and the 
lower course of the river to the sea had roving 
Sarmatian tribes, such as the Roxolani, upon its 
northern bank. 

So far as was possible, the Flavian leaders 
secured the safety of all this vast length of frontier 
before they directed the army which garrisoned it 
upon Italy. A special expeditionary force was sent 
under an able officer to assist the native levies of 
Noricum to defend the line of the river Inn against 
attack from Raetia. This force, consisting of eight 
cohorts of auxiliary infantry and one squadron of 
Spanish horse, the ala I. Hispanorum Auriana, 
under Sextilius Felix, was unmolested by the 
enemy over the river. 1 Sido and Italicus, princes 
of the Suebi, with a cavalry bodyguard of their own 
people, actually joined the column of invasion, and 
fought for Vespasian's cause at Cremona.- In like 
manner the chiefs of the Jazyges offered their ser- 
vices and those of the horse and foot of the tribe. 
The latter offer was declined, since the Flavian 

1 Felix, cf. Tac. iv. 70. - Ibid. iii. 21. 


leaders could not trust such allies' loyalty, if it 
should be tempted by bribes from the enemy. But 
they prudently secured pledges for the peace of 
that section of the frontier by taking the chiefs 
themselves with them. By such measures the 
safety of Pannonia was guaranteed in the absence 
of its garrison ; but the longer Moesian frontier 
was left dangerously denuded of Roman troops. 
The Governor of Moesia may have relied upon the 
effect of the crushing blow which had in the pre- 
vious winter been dealt to the raiders of the 
Roxolani in the province. 1 But the Dacians were 
but eagerly watching for their opportunity. As 
soon as the legions marched for Italy, they crossed 
the river and fell upon the Roman camps on the 
southern bank. Happily for the Roman province, 
Mucianus was already in Moesia on his march to 
Italy, and sent off the Sixth Ferrata legion of the 
Syrian army in hot haste to the rescue. For a 
short time the Dacians were repelled, but the 
situation on the lower Danube grew more and 
more ominous. 2 

But, meanwhile, Italy had been the scene of 
fighting. Antonius and his fellow-generals had 
taken such precautions as seemed to them neces- 
sary or possible to guard the frontier from 
Passau to the sea. But for the main enterprise 
every legionary, despite Antonius' vaunt, must be 
called to the war. Antonius himself, with Arrius 
Varus at his right hand, led the advance of the 
invading column. If the orders from Syria to 

' See above, Chap. I. pp. 31-32. - Tac. iii. 46. 


await Mucianus' arrival ever reached him, these 
were blandly disregarded. At the head of a picked 
band of auxiliaries and part of the cavalry Antonius 
and Varus crossed the Pannonian Alps and swept 
down upon Aquileia, leaving the rest of the army 
and the legionaries to follow with what speed they 
could. They seized Aquileia, and pressed at once 
on westwards. The strategy of instant attack had 
carried the day. The Flavians would seek out the 
enemy to annihilate them, if it might be so, in 
battle. While their supreme leaders in far-off 
Eastern lands were devising schemes of " exhaus- 
tion " and devious strategies of war, the Danube 
army flung caution to the winds and rushed to the 
attack. 1 

Thus the Flavian invasion of Italy led to a 
struggle once more between the old enemies of the 
war in the spring of the year — the Rhine army and 
the Danube army. In April the Danube army had 
had but a part of its strength engaged, but it had 
enjoyed the co-operation of the Army of Italy, upon 
which indeed the chief brunt of the fighting had 
fallen. In April the Rhine army had been the 
army of invasion. In October the Danube army 
was at full strength, but there was no friendly army 
marching from the south to combine with it. The 
relics of the former Army of Italy were either 
enlisted in its ranks or scattered to the four winds, 
and some were even fighting for the enemy. The 
Rhine army had become the army defending Italy 
against invasion. It had itself suffered in strength, 

1 Tac. iii. 5, 6. 


thanks to Vitellius' discharge of many of its troops, 
and in efficiency, thanks to six months' loose living 
in Italy. But it had added on to it all available 
soldiers in Rome and Italy, and the two victorious 
generals of the first campaign, Valens and Caecina, 
were once more in command of it. The strategy of 
the October campaign is more simple and there- 
fore less interesting than that of April ; but the 
struggle was a fiercer one, even to the death. In 
April the seeds were abundantly sown of bitterness 
and passion. Now the late harvest-time had come, 
and the furious soldiery were the reapers. 

§ 4. The Strategy of the Defence 

The tidings of the mutiny in Moesia against his 
authority had first reached Vitellius at Rome in a 
letter from' Aponius Saturninus, governor of the pro- 
vince. But Saturninus sent word only that the 
Third legion had revolted, and flattering friends in 
the Imperial Court made light of the whole disturb- 
ance. Trustworthy news was indeed difficult to 
obtain as soon as the Danube army had blocked 
the road over the Pannonian Alps, for if the north- 
west wind in the Adriatic hampered any naval 
movements on part of the enemy, it at least also 
hindered the coming of despatches from the East 
overseas. Vitellius, however, sent to Britain, Spain, 
and Germany for reinforcements. But his sum- 
mons were tardy, nor were they very urgent. 
Vespasian's spies and agents were everywhere, and 
men had no confidence in Vitellius' chances of 


victory. Three of the four legions in Britain did 
indeed send detachments in time to take part in the 
struggle. 1 The fear of troubles in the country and 
the half-heartedness of its governor restrained the 
rest. The legates of the three legions in Spain 
with one consent held all their troops back. 2 They 
would not help to prop a falling cause. In Upper 
Germany was an old and timorous governor, 
Hordeonius Flaccus, whom Vitellius had left there 
to guard the bank of the Rhine. But he by this 
time was alarmed at the signs of revolt against 
Rome, which were now but too clear lower down 
the river, and wisely kept the few troops at his 
disposal in the province. Only the one legion in 
Africa 3 and the provincial troops here were ready 
and eager to fight for their old governor Vitellius, 
but their legate, Valerius Festus, wavered, and 
they did not cross the sea. When, therefore, 
the instant and alarming approach of the danger 
soon put its reality beyond question, Vitellius had 
to confront it with such troops as he had in Italy, 
together with the timely, if weak, reinforcements 
from Britain. Alike the West and the South 
were happy to be spectators of the combat, and 
were ready to applaud the victor heartily enough. 
Self-interest in such a civil war was bound to be 
men's ruling instinct. 

But no such reproach of timorousness or 

1 Viz. II. Augusta, IX. Hispana, XX. Valeria Victrix. The Fourteenth 
legion was, of course, hostile to Vitellius, and sent no aid. Cf. above, 

P- 133- 

2 Viz. I. Adjutrix, VI. Victrix, X. (Temina. 

3 Viz. II T. Augusta. 


indifference belongs to the Emperor's old troops, 
the soldiers of the former German army. They 
from first to last were loyal and devoted to 
Vitellius. Nor, indeed, were their numbers small. 
Their old generals, Caecina and Valens, were 
ordered to march at once to the seat of war in 
North Italy as soon as the general revolt of the 
Danube army was beyond doubt. Valens was 
handicapped by illness, and unable to leave Rome 
at once. But Caecina, after taking an affectionate 
farewell of the Emperor, whom he intended to 
betray, marched for the north at the head of an 
imposing column of infantry, preceded by a cavalry 
detachment. In the van of the foot there marched 
the veterans of four legions — the First, Fourth 
Macedonica, Fifteenth Primigenia, and Sixteenth. 
The centre consisted of the Fifth Alaudae legion 
and the Twenty-second Primigenia. In the rear 
of the column came the First Italica legion, the 
Twenty - first Rapax, and the detachments from 
the three legions of Britain — the Second Augusta, 
N inth H ispana, and Twentieth Valeria Victrix. The 
whole number can hardly have fallen short of forty 
thousand legionaries. Four of these legions had 
belonged to Valens' old command in Lower Ger- 
many, 1 and he sent bidding them wait upon the 
march until he could overtake them. But Caecina 
overruled the order, and he had every possible 
military justification for so doing. 

The writers of the principate of Vespasian loved 
to paint in gloomy colours the appearance which the 

1 Viz. I. Italica, V. Alaudae, XV. Primigenia, XVI. 


soldiers of his defeated rival presented as they 
marched to the front from Rome by the great north 
road, and the Roman historian of a later age had no 
choice, it seems, but to tell their story over again. 
If these writers dared to ascribe honourable motives 
to men, Tacitus' critical faculty was at once aroused ; 
but the mere record of supposed facts, if they 
were picturesque, excited no suspicion in his mind. 
Yet the soldier's trade is war, and many an army 
has marched out to defeat as cheerfully and made 
as brave a show as have the coming victors in the 
battle. When the defeat is history of the past then 
the curious scribes find presage for it in the 
imagined demeanour of the troops as they marched 
for the front. The change in the bearing of the 
German army, says the Roman writer, was indeed 
great as it left the city. There was no strength in 
their bodies, no fire in their hearts. The column 
rolled heavily along, sluggish and scattered, the 
weapons dull with long neglect, the very horses 
moving listlessly. The soldier, grumbling at the 
sun, the dust, the weather, shirked his duty, and 
made up for it by quarrelling with his comrade. 1 It 
is a sombre military picture. Yet this is the army 
which, after a march of three hundred miles in 
summer heat, is ready, in spite of the desertion of 
its general, to march some thirty miles on a short 
October day, and, without taking rest, fight strenu- 
ously in hand-to-hand combat with the enemy the 
whole of the following night until the sun rose ! 
Moore's Englishmen, Blucher's Prussians, young 

1 Tac. ii. 99 : cf. ii. ior. 


General Bonaparte's ragged troops, happy in their 
desperate victories, happier still in their generals, 
would yet find comrades to their heart in the 
Romans of Caecina's leaderless army — soldiers, in 
truth, for all their grumbling, and no craven, no 
undisciplined, mob of recreants. 

The force of circumstances compelled the Vitel- 
lians to adopt the strategical defensive. To this 
Caecina now chose to add the tactical defensive as 
well. He contented himself with the occupation of 
a strong position guarding the line from Cremona 
to the sea. The thrust of the assailants would 
come from the north-east. Caecina made due pre- 
parations to repel this attack upon his lines. North 
of the main stream of the river Po, between the 
marshes of Mantua and the lagoons of Maestra, two 
rivers at no great distance apart flow through the 
level plain-. The first of these, the Tartaro, is 
distant some five miles, at an average, from the 
Po for the greater part of its course. North of 
this again the splendid stream of the Adige, which 
comes foaming down from the Brenner Pass and 
sweeps in a magnificent semicircle round the 
fortress of Verona, leaves the hills at that city, 
and for the rest of its course cuts through the 
marshy level to the sea by Chioggia with a quieter 
Mood. In Roman days there was no bridge over 
the Po from Hostilia for over forty miles to the 
east. From the passage of the river at Hostilia 
the main road ran north-east through Ateste (Este), 
Patavium (Padua), and Altinum (Altino) to Aquileia. 
This road crossed first the Tartaro at three miles' 


distance from Hostilia, and then the Adige eight 
miles from its crossing of the Tartaro. Here, 
guarding the passage of the Adige, is to-day the 
fortress [city of Legnago, one of the four great 
fortresses of the " Quadrilateral," famous in the 
times of the Austrian domination of Italy. 1 In the 
first century of our era a little Roman market-town, 
by name Forum Alieni, lay on the site of the 
fortress of Legnago. 2 

The advance guard of cavalry was sent on at 
once to occupy Cremona, and it was followed to 
the town by the First Italica legion and the 
Twenty-first Rapax. The rest of the large army 
was directed straight upon Hostilia. Caecina 
himself turned aside to visit the naval station at 
Ravenna, where lay the fleet under the command 
of its prefect, Sextus Lucilius Bassus. Ravenna, 
indeed, was necessary to the completeness of the 
defence. For although the invaders had no fleet 
able to cope with the Vitellian fleet at Ravenna, 
yet there seems to have been a coast road leaving 
the main road from Aquileia to Padua some miles 
short of this latter city, and striking due south by 
Adria to Ravenna ; and if the enemy had chosen 
this road, the defenders' position from Cremona to 
Hostilia would have been outflanked and turned. 
But the presence of a friendly fleet at Ravenna 
would make any such scheme of advance far too 

1 The four fortresses were : N.W. Peschiera; N.E. Verona; S.W. Mantua; 
S.E. Legnago. 

- There cannot be reasonable doubt as to this identification. The sug- 
gestion that Ferrara is Forum Alieni is impossible in view of the military- 
operations of this campaign. 


dangerous to adopt. Thus the line of defence ran 
from Cremona to Hostilia, from Hostilia to 
Ravenna. And thrown forward at Forum Alieni, 
guarding the bridge over the Adige, was a small 
outpost, consisting of three cohorts of auxiliary 
infantry and a squadron of Gallic cavalry, the 
ala II. Gallorum Sebosiana. The breadth of 
the river and the single bridge should make its 
defence possible even by so small a force if it 
observed the elementary duties of an outpost, 
constant scouting by the cavalry, and watchful 
pickets at night. 

The first blow dealt to the defence fell upon this 
force at Legnago, which the enemy successfully 
rushed at dawn. The camp was completely sur- 
prised, and many were cut down before they could 
reach their weapons. This disgrace was the result 
only of inexcusable carelessness on part of the 
sentries, or of the commander, if no sentries were 

Men on the line of defence cannot sleep at ease at night, 
or kindle fires to warm themselves. The night is the time 
when they must be most vigilant and wide awake. The patrols 
on the picket line and the scouts far in front must try to take in 
everything. However tired they may be from their day's work, 
at night they must not even allow a singing insect or a flying 
bird to pass unnoticed. 1 

The outposts of the camp on the Adige, if there 
were such, incurred great dishonour. But the 
reverse was partially redeemed by some of the 

1 Human Bullets, by Lieut. Sakurai, p. 67. The Japanese siege of Tort 
Arthur puts most warfare, ancient and modern, to shame. 


troops who, though surprised, held their ground 
long enough to allow the destruction of the 
bridge, and by this means checked for the time 
the pursuit and advance of the invaders. But 
when the news of this reverse reached Caecina, and 
his outposts also came into touch with the enemy's 
skirmishers, who presently crossed the Adige, the 
Vitellian general moved his main camp at Hostilia 
a few miles forward, and entrenched a strong posi- 
tion on the northern bank of the river Tartaro. 
To its rear, therefore, lay this river, crossed by a 
bridge ; on both flanks the marshes of that muddy 
stream safely guarded it. 1 With its front only 
exposed to attack and this strongly fortified, secured 
on the west of the whole line by Cremona, on the 
east by the fleet at Ravenna, the camp on the 
Tartaro might surely defy the assaults of the 
enemy. 2 

While Vitellius' legions lay upon the Tartaro 
or at Cremona, maintaining a strictly defensive 
attitude, the Emperor's second general, Fabius 
Valens, in due course left Rome and moved slowly 
northwards along the northern highway, following 
in the steps of the army towards Ariminum (Rimini) 
which lies on the road thirty miles south-east of 

1 This position is described by Tacitus in iii. 9 as "inter Hostiliam et 
paludes Tartari fluminis." From this it would appear as if it lay on the 
south bank of the Tartaro and that the " flumen " at its rear (loc. cit.) is the 
Po. But when in iii. 14 the troops evacuate it, Tacitus describes the 
movement as " relictis castris, abrupto ponte Hostiliam rursus, inde 
Cremonam pergunt." Therefore the bridge broken down lay between the 
camp and Hostilia, and as this latter place lay on the north bank of the Po, 
it can only have been a bridge over the Tartaro. As this bridge lay in rear 
of the camp (iii. 9), the camp must have been on the north bank of this 
latter river. 
fe& - Movements of the Vitellians : cf. Tac. ii. 99, 100 ; iii. 6, 9. 


Ravenna, and one hundred miles from the camp on 
the Tartaro. In his train he seems to have brought 
more women than soldiers, more eunuchs than 
legionaries. The march of so soft a column was 
naturally slow. Valens possessed military ability ; 
but, at a time when there was crying need for it at 
the front, he preferred to postpone its exercise to 
the gratification of an unbridled and horrible lust 
with which he amused himself at his frequent halts 
along the road. The army at Cremona and the 
Tartaro could look for small reinforcements to 
arrive with this general when he came, and might 
look for his coming for long in vain. 1 Caecina's 
army was, in fact, the Emperor's one hope. It had 
marched swiftly to the north. Now it lay sullenly 
in its lines waiting attack by the foe. To the 
strategy of attack, chosen by Antonius Primus and 
the Flavian generals of the Danube army, the 
Vitellians opposed a strategy of defence. Such a 
strategy may be executed by a tactical offensive as 
well as by a tactical defensive. But Caecina chose 
the latter, and destroyed his Emperor by his 

§ 5. The Strategies compared 

The comparison between the advantages of the 
offensive and the defensive in strategy is a favourite 
theme with military scientists, and Clausewitz's 

1 Tac. iii. 40. Tacitus' account of Valens' actual movements is the 
vaguest and worst possible. See below, Note F, " Valens' March to the 


expressed preference for the latter has produced 
a rich crop of explanations, interpretations, even 
apologies. Certain advantages of the attack are 
indeed evident, and are as visible in strategy as 
they are in tactics. The attacking army is the 
more likely to be keen, even enthusiastic ; its 
confidence is probably greater ; its sense of daring 
stimulates courage and at the same time enforces 
discipline. " The greater vitality resides in the 
attack." 1 The invasion of a hostile country especi- 
ally fires the imagination and stimulates the vigour 
of the soldier. An advantage in numbers over 
the enemy is indeed greatly to be desired by the 
invader. Lines of communications have to be 
guarded, and these are always increasing in length. 
Fortresses have to be seized and garrisoned, or 
blockaded ; important strategical points have to be 
secured. Supplies are obtained with greater diffi- 
culty in a hostile than in a friendly land. Losses 
in battle are made good less easily. Stragglers 
are cut off and cannot rejoin. The sick and 
wounded cannot be left to the care of the in- 
habitants, but must be tended and guarded by the 
invading army. To supply these many demands 
for men, and yet to retain a force strong enough to 
push ever deeper and deeper into the heart of the 
enemy's country, and able to defeat the foe when 
these choose to stand their ground rather than to 
surrender still more of the homeland to their foe, — 
these requirements make a superiority of numbers 
on part of the invader and his constant reinforce- 

1 Von der Goltz. 


merit well-nigh essential. 1 " Armies acting on the 
offensive melt like fresh snow in spring." 2 

It is thus plain that the offensive is only possible when large- 
numbers enable a leader to overcome the difficulties it offers, 
and good organisation ensures the rapidity necessary for carrying 
it out. But, given these, there can be no doubt of its advantage. 
The moral gain is great ; the soldier feels he is superior to his 
adversary when led with determination against him ; and this 
mental attitude leads more than half-way along the road to 
victory. 3 

There are few generals who would not prefer 
to conduct rather than to resist an invasion ; who 
would not choose to attack rather than to defend. 
Even though, on the actual field of battle, the 
lot of the defender may seem to have fallen in 
pleasanter places, to act on the defensive in the 
whole theatre of the war is but a gloomy busi- 
ness. There are indeed no generals who would 
not desire to have for their invasion or attack an 
efficient army larger than that of the defender. 
And yet the brilliant genius of the commander 
has in times past more than made good even an 
inferiority of numbers possessed by the invading 
army when it crossed the enemy's frontier. Hannibal 
in Italy, Cromwell in Scotland, Lee and Jackson in 
Maryland, took no account of the general rule that 

1 Of the drain in men suffered by an invading army there are stock 
examples in the military text-books : Napoleon in 1812 crossed the frontier 
of Russia with over three and a half million troops : at Moscow he had barely 
a hundred thousand; in 1877, 450,000 Russians crossed the Danube: 43,000 
arrived outside Constantinople; the Germans in 1870 invaded France with 
three and a half million men : six weeks later they had only half the number 
before Paris. Cf. James, Modern Strategy, p. 37 ; Von der Goltz, The Nation 
in Arms, p. 258. 

- Von der Goltz. 

;i James, Modern Strategy, p. 3S. 


the invader must greatly outnumber the field army 
of the defender. 1 But the world sees few com- 
manders such as these. And even so, alike in Italy 
and in America, the brutal weight of numbers had 
in the end its revenge. 

The Flavian invading army was far from en- 
joying any such superiority of numbers. But 
the leader of the invasion, Antonius Primus, 
was a commander, as the event showed, who 
won the admiration and devotion of his troops to 
a high degree, and inspired them with his own 
self-confidence and energy. The troops which he 
led across the frontier were spirited and ready for 
any desperate enterprise. No invading army could 
in temper have been better fitted for its work. 
Neither did the general lack ability or a keen insight 
into the possibilities of a military situation. The 
German general would have his brother-officers go 
to school of Goethe's Mephistopheles : — 

An Kiihnheit wird 's euch auch nicht fehlen, 
Und wenn ihr euch nur selbst vertraut, 
Vertrauen euch die andern Seelen.' 2 

It was just this supreme confidence in himself 
which, added to his courage and " dash," endeared 
Antonius to his men, and seemed to make him an 
ideal leader of an invading army. 

1 Of course this rule applies only when the hostile nations and their 
armaments are of similar character and their troops display similar qualities. 
It does not hold good in contests between European troops and most Asiatic 
nations, or barbarians ; e.g. an Alexander or a Caesar, a Cortez or a Clive, is 
not an example to the contrary of this rule. Nor does it apply to mere raids 
across the frontier where no fighting or occupation of the enemy's land is 

2 I take the quotation from Von der Goltz, The Nation in Arms, p. 388. 


The invasion of Italy by the Danube army was 
clearly a daring, even a perilous, strategy to adopt. 
But when invasion is conducted by such a general, 
when in itself it has such advantages over the 
defence, surely the plan might seem justified ? 

In the zeal to inflict injury upon the enemy, a resolution must 
not aim at the unattainable, though it should venture to go to 
the extreme limit of the permissible. In war, nothing rational 
must be considered impossible as long as it has not been tested ; 
and we may dare everything we believe we can carry out. 1 

" In war, nothing rational must be considered 
impossible." The Flavian invasion of Italy as con- 
ducted in the autumn of a.d. 69 had no rational 
prospect of success. It ought to have been hurled 
back in ruinous defeat and panic-stricken disgrace 
over the Pannonian Alps. 

For the Flavian forces struggled over the 
mountains down to the plain of North-east Italy in 
widely separated detachments. Those who arrived 
first flung themselves forward regardless of any 
co-operation with those who were to come after 
them. Here came a band of auxiliaries ; then, after 
a gap, came a legion ; then, after a pause of some 
days, other legions. The whole conduct of the 
enterprise in face of a foe who knew how to use his 
opportunities was mad. Even when concentrated, 
the invading army was hardly equal in numbers to 
the Vitellian forces on the river. If the defenders 
had taken the tactical offensive as soon as the foe 
appeared in the plain south and east of Aquileia, 

1 Von der Goltz, op. cil. p. 383. 



there was no hope for the invaders but that 
they would have been swallowed up piecemeal. 
The legions which came tardily down over the 
mountains, because encouraged by the unopposed 
progress of Antonius and the advance guard, 
would have hesitated longer had a few frightened 
fugitives come speeding back to them for refuge 
from the pursuit of a victorious foe. Antonius' 
numbers for the first few days after he had come 
into touch with the enemy were contemptible. 
But the legions of Vitellius lay passively in their 
entrenchments, looking dully at the stream of 
the enemy which flowed past their front in inter- 
mittent waves. The procession of the Flavian 
troops passed gaily along day after day, always 
exposing their flank. They seized town after town, 
fortress after fortress, a few miles away from the 
torpid Vitellian army. They concentrated undis- 
turbed, unopposed, in high spirits, and at leisure, at 
the powerful fortress of Verona. Even after this, 
their whole line of communications lay open to 
attack. If the enemy fell on them they must of 
necessity have formed front to a flank outside 
Verona's walls, and their defeat would have meant 
annihilation for them. During the weary days while 
they were mustering, a single victory (and it was 
impossible that the Vitellians should not gain it) 
would have ruined the whole scheme of invasion — 
at least until Mucianus arrived, and would have 
given even him much cause for thought. So sensi- 
tive is the barometer of men's inclinations in days of 
civil war to the storms of failure or the sunshine of 


success that the mere rout of the advance guard of 
the Danube army might possibly have wrecked 
Vespasian's whole enterprise. This, perhaps, would 
have been too much to expect. Hardrada is routed 
at Stamford Bridge, but the Norman still lands at* 
Pevensey and Harold falls at Senlac. But, even 
so, the Northman did not invade on Duke William's 
behalf. At least the frontier of North-east Italy 
might have been securely guarded had Vitellius' 
men quitted their stagnant lines and advanced to 
battle. Mucianus' heart might well have failed him, 
or his discouraged troops have refused to follow 
him ; and then the victorious army might have 
marched south again, as did Harold's men, and have 
defied the Eastern invader to make good his landing 
from overseas, or, if he landed, have fought him to 
the death. Antonius' invasion would have remained 
on record but as a monument of rash folly. The 
real struggle for Empire might once more have 
been waged outside the walls of Rome. And who 
then would with surety forecast the victory for 
Vespasian ? 

It was treachery which defeated Vitellius' soldiers 
and their Emperor, not the strategy of the enemy. 
Two men were faithless to the cause. Caecina, the 
general, of subtilty kept his splendid army idle in 
its entrenchments. Lucilius Bassus, prefect of the 
fleet at Ravenna, sought to entice the sailors from 
their loyalty. Both men's motives were despicable. 
However unworthy their Emperor, it was not for 
these men who had received honours at his hands to 
plot craftily against him. Happy indeed was Rome 


and fortunate the Empire which lost Vitellius to 
gain Vespasian as Emperor ; but the traitor's taint is 
not therefore sweet-scented. Bassus, a mere cavalry 
captain, had hoped for the prefecture of the Guards 
at Rome. Preferred to the lower post of Admiral of 
the Fleet, he sought in a dastardly perfidy the remedy 
for his disappointment. Caecina, vain and ambitious, 
ever craving popularity, secretly resentful at the 
greater fame which his colleague had won in the 
recent campaign, believed that Valens enjoyed the 
greater share of Vitellius' esteem. The two had in- 
dulged in envious rivalry of pomp, parade, and self- 
advertisement during the last few months at Rome. 
Caecina had yielded himself a slave to indolence and 
luxury. His ambition waxed as his self-control 
waned. Envy preyed upon him, jealousy mastered 
him. The man brooded over his wrongs until, as 
often happens, he lost his sense of honour. He 
who first should make terms secretly with the 
Flavians would doubtless receive the greater rewards 
at their hands. Without shame and without scruple 
Caecina and Bassus conspired together at Padua to 
bring fleet and army over to the enemy. 1 

There was little difficulty with the fleet. The 
sailors, loyal to Otho, had accepted Vitellius' rule 
with chagrin. Many of them were drawn from the 
provinces of Dalmatia and Pannonia, now in arms 
for Vespasian. In a night the mutiny was accom- 
plished. The Ravenna fleet declared for the 
Flavians with Bassus' full approval, and chose 
Cornelius Fuscus as their new prefect. Bassus 

1 Tac. ii. 56, 92, 93, 100, 101. 


gained little by his treachery save the loss of his 
command and a short stay in prison at Adria. 
Later he was employed by the victors again as 
cavalry captain on petty operations in Campania. 
His ambition had sorely overleapt itself, and he had 
this excuse for his treachery that he had failed to 
profit by it. 1 But Caecina had a harder task with 
the army. The general could urge with truth that 
the mutiny of the fleet had made their position on 
the Tartaro untenable, and that Vitellius' cause had 
suffered a grievous blow. With some success he 
laid insidious siege to the loyalty of the centurions 
and a few of the soldiers, who at last allowed his 
arguments and their fears to prevail over their 
fidelity. But though for a moment's space Vespasian 
was proclaimed in the Vitellian camp, the bulk of the 
soldiers and the higher officers held firmly by their 
Emperor. " What did the miserable fleet count," 
they passionately asked, "in comparison with eight 
legions ? Were they, the proud, victorious army of 
Germany, to be handed over to an Antonius Primus 
as so many cattle, so many slaves, for sale ? Caecina 
and Bassus might seek to rob the army of its 
Emperor ; but how could they, soldiers who had in 
this campaign tasted nothing as yet of bloodshed, 
make answer to their enemies or look them in the 
face when asked tauntingly of their victories or 
defeats ? " 

The Fifth legion Alaudae overthrew Vespasian's 
standards with bitter indignation ; the others swiftly 
followed suit. Caecina was put by the men in irons. 

1 Tac. ii. 101 ; iii. 12 ; iv. 3. 


The army on the Tartaro was loyal to its Emperor. 
Its inactivity, its hopeless reliance upon the tactical 
defensive, had been forced on it by guile and by 
treachery. Its opportunity for avenging the folly 
of the invader on his head was indeed lost. The 
mutiny of the fleet must force them to retire from 
their useless lines. Their general, too, was lost to 
them. But honour was not lost, and they were 
still eight legions with arms in their hands and 
burning anger in their hearts. 1 

The strategy of invasion should have been met 
and defeated by the tactics of offence employed 
by the strategical defensive. Success crowned 
Antonius' rashness. If he had reason to hope that 
Caecina would play the traitor, the prize was worth 
the risk, and Antonius who ventured it was truly a 
great general. But if, when he descended from the 
mountains upon Aquileia, he knew nothing of the 
temper of the sailors at Ravenna or of Caecina's 
meditated treachery (and the scanty evidence points 
to this conclusion), he cannot be acquitted of an 
impulsive rashness which properly deserved defeat. 
For in this case he was presuming upon a degree 
of sloth, ignorance, and incapacity on part of the 
enemy which it was incredible that they should 
display. Judged by results, the Flavian strategy 
of invasion was a notable success. Yet there are 
victories in war as in games which rightly give 
small satisfaction to the victors. Every general 
makes mistakes ; but it is not scientific strategy 
which is built upon nothing but the expectation of 

1 Tac. ii. ioi ; iii. 13, 14. 


the foe's mistakes. When Antonius rushed to 
knock his head against the enemy's wall, he deserved 
a headache rather than the discovery that the wall 
was lath and plaster. 

And on the other side, Valens, so far as he was 
able, completed the ruin begun by the traitor 
general and admiral. When the Vitellian army 
quitted the position on the Tartaro and concentrated, 
ably enough, at Cremona, it lacked nothing even 
then but a general. One fatal error gave the 
hard-won victory to the foe. From this Valens' 
ripe wisdom would surely have saved the army. 
But Valens was not at Cremona. While still on his 
slow march to the north, he received the news of 
the mutiny of the fleet. He was then already 
probably north of Ariminum, not very far from 
Ravenna, to which city he was marching to co- 
operate with the fleet. 1 The harbour now was 
hostile, and he could not venture to march forward. 
His disorderly rabble was not an army. But still 
he might have turned aside by a cross road to the 
main road from Ariminum to Bononia, and, if he 
travelled with great speed, have perhaps reached 
Caecina on the Tartaro in time to dissuade that 
wavering general from his treachery. Bassus' 
action seems to have befallen before Caecina 
expected it, and the general was still hesitating. 
Or, Valens might certainly have reached Cremona, 
had he pushed on fast, before the critical battle was 
fought. But Valens never at any time in his career 
showed resolution or rapidity of movement. He 

1 See Note F, " Valens' March to the North." 


halted his column in miserable indecision, and finally 
sent to Rome begging for reinforcements. A poor 
little force was sent him, of no avail for any useful 
purpose. These he despatched to Ariminum. He 
himself gave up all thoughts of taking any part in 
the campaign on the Po, and crossed the Apennines 
to reach the Arno valley and the sea at Pisa. Great 
schemes of future warring at the head of the forces 
of Gaul and Germany floated through his mind, and 
he took ship at Pisa for the coast of Gaul. This 
plan ended lamentably. At Monaco on his voyage 
he heard that all the coasts had declared for 
Vespasian. Most of his comrades promptly followed 
the example set them, and Valens himself with but 
ten companions, setting out upon the unfriendly sea, 
was driven by a gale upon the Stoichades islands. 1 
There he was captured and sent as a prisoner of 
war to the Umbrian hill-city of Urbinum.- 

Long ere this, the Vitellians in North Italy 
had fought their final battle there without a 
general to lead them. When so many were the 
blunders of the defence, when the defending army 
had for its generals a Caecina and a Valens, the 
traitor and the faint-heart, there is small wonder 
that the strategy of offence and invasion prevailed 
against it. A combination by the Vitellians of the 
tactical offensive with the strategical defensive must 
have given them, at first at least, the victory. 
The Imperial army was wilfully sacrificed by in- 
competence and treachery. 

1 The lies d'Hyeres, off Toulon rather than (as Tacitus describes them) off 
Marseilles. 2 Tac. iii. 41-43 ; cf. Note F. 


§ 6. The Second " Battle of Bedriactim " 

A. The Flavian Advance to Verona. — Antonius 
led the van of his invading army rapidly down upon 
North-east Italy. The towns which lay upon the 
roads leading west and south-west from Aquileia, 
far from resisting him, even welcomed his coming. 
Opitergium, the modern Oderzo, forty-five miles 
from Aquileia, and Altinum (Altino) to the south of 
it, fifty-five miles from Aquileia, opened their gates 
to him. Altinum was a position of importance, as 
a few miles to the west of it the road from Ravenna 
which crossed the Po at Adria joined the road from 
Padua and Hostilia to Aquileia. It was Antonius' 
intention to press rapidly forward down this latter 
road. While then the fleet at Ravenna belonged 
to the enemy, there was a danger lest a hostile 
force should advance by the former road from the 
seaport and throw itself astride of the road by which 
the Flavian vanguard had come after these had 
passed by. In this event, their van would be cut 
off from the rest of their army and from their 
communications. Its position would be perilous. 
Antonius knew nothing as yet of the intention of 
the fleet to desert from the enemy. He therefore 
left a garrison in Altinum to guard the communica- 
tions, and pressed on with the main body to Padua, 
and beyond it to Ateste, the modern Este. Both 
of these towns admitted him. At Ateste he was 
but some seventeen miles from the enemy's outpost 
which was guarding the bridge over the Adige at 
Forum Alieni. This outpost, as has been seen, 


was successfully rushed at dawn and dispersed. 
But it found time to destroy the bridge and check 
the pursuit. 1 4. 

While Caecina the enemy's general, upon news 
of this reverse, moved his army from Hostilia forward 
to the camp on the Tartaro and entrenched himself 
there, Antonius lay quiet at Padua. The first wave 
of the invasion had swept forward eighty miles, and 
had for the moment spent its force. But the news 
of the advance and of the success gained on the 
Adige was quickly carried back to Poetovio, and 
the two legions of Pannonia, the Seventh and the 
Thirteenth, started out forthwith with much greater 
confidence, and joined Antonius in due course at 
Padua, meeting with no difficulty on the way. 
Here they were given some days' rest to recover 
from the march. 

Antonius and the other Flavian leaders had now 
to consider their next movements. The enemy lay 
quiet in their lines beyond the Adige, and showed 
no sign of advancing themselves to the attack. 
This left the initiative still comfortably in the 
invader's keeping. To assault the position on the 
Tartaro, however, seemed most unwise. It was an 
exceedingly strong one, and, moreover, was held 
by a veteran army which was far stronger in 
numbers than were the troops who had up to 
that time arrived at Padua. It was also becom- 
ing evident that Caecina's heart was not towards 
Vitellius any longer, and it was far better to 
give him time for quiet thought and a fur- 

1 See above, p. 171. 


tive correspondence with the Flavians than to 
hurry him into a loyal resistance by an ill-timed 
attack. And two other thoughts had weight with 
Antonius. The strength of his force lay largely 
in its cavalry. If Caecina should make up his mind 
after all to advance his standards against the invader, 
Antonius needed a battle-ground where he could 
deploy all his horse to best advantage. There was, 
indeed, plenty of level ground round Padua at the 
foot of the green Euganean Hills. But these hills 
might screen the advance of the enemy, and, besides, 
to stay at Padua would seem a confession of fear. 
The advance must continue. The second con- 
sideration which influenced the Flavian general was 
the very lively dread lest large reinforcements 
should reach the enemy from Germany by way of the 
Brenner Pass. Raetia, on the northern side of the 
Alps where this pass began, was loyal to Vitellius, 
and the Flavian forces already sent to the line of the 
Inn might indeed defend Noricum against an attack 
from Raetia, but were too weak to intercept the 
coming of reinforcements to Italy over the Brenner. 1 
If there were an army on the march by this road — 
and Vitellius had certainly sent to Germany for 
help — and if it reached Hostilia, little would be 
heard henceforward of Caecina's wavering. One 
town, however, guarded the issue of the Brenner 
Pass from the mountains, the strong and important 
city of Verona, across the river Adige, some forty 
miles up stream above Legnago. To the south of 
Verona was a plain suited in every way for cavalry 

1 See above, p. 162. 


manoeuvres. If he seized this town, Antonius 
would have not only the prestige of holding one of 
the greatest cities of North Italy, but also a suit- 
able base for his future operations. Moreover, at 
Verona he would be able to intercept any German 
reinforcements coming to the enemy from the 
north ; and Verona was half- way from Padua to 
Cremona. Poised at this central point he could 
swoop down upon any part of the enemy's long 
line of defence, which reached from Cremona to 
Hostilia and beyond. 

As soon, therefore, as his men were ready again 
for marching Antonius marched from Padua to 
Verona. On the road lay the town of Vicetia, the 
modern Vicenza under the Monti Berici. To-day 
this busy city numbers nearly half as many in- 
habitants as Verona herself; but in Roman days 
it was a small place of little importance. It gave, 
however, peculiar pleasure to the Flavians to take 
possession of the town, since it happened to be 
Caecina's birthplace, and they gleefully thought 
how the news would be spread abroad that " the 
enemy's general had been despoiled of his native 
land." 1 The town, however, was of no military 
importance, and Caecina, who was pondering matters 
of greater moment, was not likely to be greatly 
moved by so trivial an incident. From Vicetia the 
army moved forward to Verona, thirty miles away, 
and the town gladly received them. Entrenchments 
were thrown up and a halt of some time was 

1 " Patriam hostium duci ereptam,'' Tac. iii. 8. 


From this position, says the Roman historian, 
Caecina could doubtless have hurled them, had he 
so chosen. But the traitor kept his army quiet, 
and soon the coming of the Moesian army relieved 
Antonius from the more instant peril of defeat 
First the Seventh Claudia legion arrived under 
command of a stalwart tribune, Vipstanus Messalla, 
and accompanied by the Governor of Moesia him- 
self, Aponius Saturninus. The tribune had taken 
direct command himself of the legion, since its 
legate was at this time fleeing for his life over the 
Balkans from the private vengeance of the governor. 
Messalla, says Tacitus, " was the one and only man 
who brought an honest heart to that war." Later 
he wrote the history of it, and Tacitus has certainly 
thanked him gracefully for the use which he himself 
made of his history. 

After the Seventh legion came the other two, 
the Third and Eighth. By this time at last the 
Flavian leaders had assembled a truly powerful 
army at Verona. It cannot have been greatly, if at 
all, weaker than the enemy's force on the Tartaro. 
One thing was lacking to its strength, namely, per- 
fect discipline. And it enjoyed too many possible 
generals. The one evil remedied the other. The 
turbulence of the men scared away the governors 
of Moesia and Pannonia from the camp. Antonius 
was left in undisputed command, so far as any man 
had command over the unruly spirits of the soldiers, 
and he could rely on Arrius Varus to help him. 1 

B. The Race for Cremona. — Then to the Flavian 

1 Tac. iii. 6-1 1. 


camp at Verona there came exciting news. Antonius 
had for some time past been in correspondence 
with Caecina. The latter had doubtless assured 
the Flavian commander that he could induce his 
army to follow his example in renouncing its allegi- 
ance to Vitellius. Caecina tried and failed. His 
indignant troops put him in chains ; but they wisely 
judged their position on the Tartaro to be no longer 
tenable. The Ravenna fleet threatened their rear ; 
the Flavian army at Verona, within a few miles of 
their front, was now strong, and might advance 
against them when they were in confusion and had 
no leader to inspirit their defence. To the west 
at Cremona, however, lay two legions and a force 
of cavalry of their comrades. The troops resolved 
to march to join them at once. The direct road to 
Cremona from Hostilia lay north of the Po, and ran 
by Mantua and Bedriacum. By this route Cremona 
was not quite sixty miles away from Hostilia. But 
if they marched by this route they would be peril- 
ously near the Flavians at Verona, and their right 
flank would be exposed to attack by these at any 
point along the road. If the Verona army marched 
down upon their column (and Antonius would 
certainly not miss such an opportunity) they would 
have hurriedly to deploy into order of battle by the 
right with the enemy's cavalry rushing down upon 
them, and they would fight with flanks unprotected, 
without cavalry of their own, and with their backs 
to the broad and unfordable stream of the Po. 
Though they now lacked Caecina's guidance, the 
legate of the Fifth legion and the Camp Prefect, 


to whom the soldiers had entrusted the command, 
were able to realise that such a position must 
mean ruinous defeat. The march by Mantua was 
impossible. Their only alternative was to cross to 
the south of the Po, and march by Mutina, Parma, 
and (possibly) Placentia. It was a terribly long 
detour and a long and trying march of a hundred and 
ten miles. 1 But at least their right flank would be 
safe, and distance would be their only enemy. They 
must trust to speed of marching to bring them to 
Cremona in time. And, in truth, never did troops 
merit better the praise which belongs to the Roman 
soldier than do these betrayed and leaderless men 
of the Vitellian army. Placed in so disheartening 
and critical a position, the modern European soldier 
might but too easily lose heart entirely, or lack the 
initiative and foresight which the Roman at this 
time displayed. There have been few troops in the 
world to equal those of Rome. 

The Vitellians abandoned their camp on the 
Tartaro and fell back to Hostilia. They crossed 
the Po there, broke down the bridge behind 
them, 2 and disappeared entirely from the range and 
ken of Antonius' scouts. The crisis of the cam- 
paign evidently was hard at hand. 3 

1 Distances : Hostilia to Mutina, 30 miles ; Mutina to Parma, 30 ; Parma 
to Placentia, 35 ; Placentia to Cremona, 15. 

2 An obvious inference from military requirements. The broken bridge in 
Tac. iii. 14 is, of course, that over the Tartaro. 

3 Tacitus has not the least interest in the march. He merely remarks, 
"Abrupto ponte Hostiliam rursus, inde Cremonam pergunt." That they 
marched vid Parma, as Mommsen suggests, is shown by the fact that 
Antonius, on their departure, makes a forced march of two days from 
Verona to Bedriacum (some thirty-three miles), but never gets in touch with 
the Vitellian retreating army, and he arrives outside Cremona after a day's 
fighting as soon as they do. And these have marched with desperate haste, 


Antonius understood at once the meaning of 
the empty camp. There was now to be a race for 
Cremona and its small garrison between his own 
and the Hostilia army. The two divisions of the 
enemy must not be allowed to join. Cremona must 
be taken before the eastern division could march to 
it, and before it could be reached by Valens, who 
surely (so judged the soldier Antonius) would hasten 
to join the enemy's army on hearing of Caecina's 
betrayal. Vitellian reinforcements, too, were said 
to be mustering from Britain, Gaul, and Germany. 
He had the shorter march by fifty miles. But the 
garrison of Cremona was strong enough to offer 
a sturdy resistance. Without hesitation or delay, 
Antonius led his entire force south from Verona. 
The race for Cremona had begun. 

By the evening of the second day Antonius and 
his army had marched thirty-five miles from Verona 
to Bedriacum, where the road from Mantua to 
Cremona joined their own. Cremona itself lay 
twenty-two miles away by the Via Postumia to the 
west. 1 There had been no sign of the enemy on 
the march. Evidently he had not risked the direct 
route from Hostilia to Cremona. 

Next day, October 27, a.d. 69, Antonius left 
his legions at Bedriacum with orders to com- 
plete the defences of that camp. He himself 
rode out at the head of four thousand cavalry 

thirty miles on the day before the night of the final battle. Verona to 
Cremona is fifty-five miles. If the Vitellians found a road striking off straight 
to Cremona at some point on the main road short of Placentia, the distance 
from Hostilia to Cremona, vid Parma, may be reckoned at about ninety to 
ninety-five miles. 

1 For the site of Bedriacum-Calvatone see Note C. 


eight miles along the road in the direction of 
Cremona. His auxiliary infantry were sent out 
on both sides of the road to plunder and taste 
beforehand the sweets of victory, which could 
only be fully theirs when they had won the battle. 
This strange order could not be justified save by 
the character which civil war breeds in the troops ; 
and, in fact, it was quickly punished. At eleven 
o'clock a mounted scout, who had been sent forward 
by Antonius, came riding back in hot haste with 
the news that the foe were advancing along the 
road. He had himself seen but a small body of 
their horse, but " the noise and the movement 
of the enemy could be heard far and wide." This 
somewhat vague report * caused Arrius Varus, with 
part of the cavalry, to ride on to investigate its truth. 
Antonius, with greater foresight, halted and drew up 
the remainder, leaving room on the road to receive 
Varus and his troopers into the shelter of the centre 
should they be driven back by weight of numbers. 
Messengers were at once sent off to bid the legions 
march forward from Bedriacum, and signals were 
displayed to summon the plundering auxiliaries to 
the spot. Very soon Varus and his company were 
seen galloping back at full speed along the road, 
hotly pursued by superior numbers of the enemy's 
horse. The garrison of Cremona had boldly sallied 
out to the attack. The runaways plunged madly 
into the midst of the 'Flavian battle - line. All 
Antonius' precautions were vain, and the whole 
mass of his four thousand cavalry fled back along 

1 It is a report more worthy of the historian than of the scout. 



the road in hopeless panic and confusion, their 
general swept along in the rout, vainly protesting, 
imploring, reproaching. Their flight was checked 
only by a small stream with steep banks and danger- 
ous to ford, which crossed the line of the road. 1 The 
bridge over it had been broken, and Antonius seized 
the last chance of rallying the fugitives here. A 
standard-bearer came wildly riding in flight down 
upon him. He thrust the coward through with 
a lance, grasped the standard, and himself turned 
it to face the pursuing foe. A handful of his men, 
not more than a hundred, saw the sight and made 
a stand round their general upon the streamlet's 
bank. The mass of fugitives, their flight checked, 
rallied round them. Discipline had already been 
restored and some kind of order formed when 
the pursuers came in sight, following the rout 
recklessly in a long scattered line. They were 
roughly handled, and the tide of pursuit turned. 
Back towards Cremona hurried the Vitellian horse, 
and in their wake followed the Flavian army, now 
continually reinforced by legionaries from the camp 
and auxiliaries from the fields. A confused mass 
of horse and foot, like a muddy tide, rolled along 
the Postumian way for at least ten miles, until it 

1 Heraeus, quoting one Rycke, calls this stream " the Delmona, a tributary 
of the Oglio." There is to-day a " Dugale Delmona " south and east of 
Piadena. But the Tacitean stream may be a brook more to the north, running 
(sic) from near Drizzona to the Oglio near Isola Dovarese, which probably 
crossed the line of the ancient road from Calvatone westwards. Precise 
identification is impossible, owing to the modern drainage channels. There 
is a marsh north of San Lorenzo dei Picenardi and, a mile to the west, a 
moated castello, and lakelet at Torre dei Picenardi, and there may well have 
been a stream here in old days. The " Delmona " (sic) is too far to the east 
and much too near to Calvatone. 


presently dashed upon the enemy's infantry. The 
two legions had marched out under cover of their 
cavalry's advance, and halted four miles from 
Cremona. Their steadfast array and standards 
glittering in the sun gave promise of a firm resist- 
ance as of a line of stubborn cliffs against the flood. 
But the Flavians were not to be denied. Their 
camp lay eighteen miles behind them ; they had 
fought and pursued breathlessly the last ten miles. 
But the Vitellians had no general to marshal them 
to admit their fleeing horse within their ranks, or to 
take advantage of the enemy's weariness. They 
stood stolid and perplexed, and when Vipstanus 
Messalla hurled himself upon them, they broke 
and fled. Shelter was near. Outside Cremona's 
city walls lay their own fortified camp. They 
quickly found refuge in it, and the road up to its 
very gates remained in possession of the Flavian 

The evening shadows were falling when the 
mass of Antonius' army was gathered on the scene 
of the victory. His troops clamoured to be led 
to the final assault. Thoughts of the sack and 
gluttonous rapine of a helpless city when night 
covered every deed of darkness spurred on the 
infuriated soldiery. Their general knew well that 
to assault the enemy's position that night was a 
task fraught with the greatest peril. His men were 
tired with the busy day's fighting and pursuit; they 
had no siege implements ; they knew nothing of the 
nature of the fortifications which confronted them. 
While he opposed their demands, he sent the least 


wearied of his horsemen back to the camp at Bedri- 
acum to bring supplies and a siege train up to the 
front as speedily as possible. But that night he 
would advance no further. All Antonius' entreaties 
and arguments, however, could not prevail over the 
impatient ardour of his troops. They were on the 
point of advancing madly forward when scouts 
were seen speeding back from the direction of the 
city. The tidings which these brought hushed 
the clamour in a moment and gave the soldiers 
food indeed for saner thought. The whole Hostilia 
army, the scouts reported, was even now within the 
city walls and preparing to march out at once to 
the attack. 

The veterans of Caecina's army had indeed 
accomplished a feat well-nigh beyond the possible. 
In four days 1 they had covered a hundred miles. 
That morning they had quitted camp thirty miles 
away from Cremona, and now, as evening fell, they 
marched into the city, as their comrades came 
fleeing back under its shelter. The whole army 
was at last united. Once more the scale of victory 
seemed to incline towards the Vitellians. They 
needed but a general of their own to throw his 
sword into the scale and the day was theirs. 

Had that night been allowed to pass without 
fighting, the Flavian army must on the morrow have 
been in sorry plight. Hungry and stiff and anxious, 
encamped all night long upon the open road within 

1 I allow a day for the news of the evacuation of the camp to be brought 
to Verona and for Antonius to make his dispositions for the march to Cremona. 
Not even Vitellians could have marched a hundred miles in three days and 
fought on the evening of the third. 


striking distance of the enemy, constantly alarmed 
and ever under arms, without food or fires or 
entrenchments, they would have passed the night 
in as miserable a state as that of an army expecting 
attack could well be. Meanwhile the Vitellians, 
safe within their lines, warm and with abundant 
supplies, would have rested from their long day's 
march, and risen for the battle on the coming day 
with a fresh energy and confidence equal to their 
courage and determination to conquer. One charge 
of theirs, it might be thought, would have broken 
the cold and wavering Flavian line, and then there 
remained for them but the grimmest and the most 
savage of pursuits. 

What spell of Fortune's weaving was it that 
bewitched the men of the German army ? Surely 
Heaven was resolute that Vitellius' rule must end, 
though his foes in the field sought by their mistakes 
to maintain it. Once Antonius had offered the 
enemy victory on the plains by Padua and Verona, 
and had been saved by treachery. Now on the 
morrow he promised them easy victory again. 
They had only to wait for it. But now Folly came 
to Treachery's aid and finished the work. The 
Hostilia army, weary and footsore, impatiently 
brooked no single night's delay. They had no 
general to compel them to be wise. At nine o'clock 
that night the whole Vitellian force marched de- 
fiantly out from their camp under the walls of 
Cremona and challenged their hated foe to the final 
struggle. The hour for which they had been 
waiting so long had come at last ; the prize they 


had toiled so heavily to gain seemed at last within 
their grasp. A night's delay might let it slip. But 
now there should be no escape for the enemy. 1 

C. The Battle of Cremona. — Thus " indigus rec- 
toris, inops consilii," the Vitellian army marched 
out and drew up in order of battle. On the left of 
the raised Postumian way were stationed the men 
of the Twenty-second, Sixteenth, and First legions ; 
on the road itself the Fifth and Fifteenth legions, 
with the detachments of the Second, Ninth, and 
Twentieth behind them ; on their right flank stood 
the Fourth legion. Men of the First legion Italica 
and the Twenty-first legion were scattered along 
the entire line. No precise position is given for 
the cavalry and auxiliaries, but the former at least 
were doubtless posted on the extreme wings. The 
Flavians were already drawn up in line of battle to 
meet them. On the road in the centre was the 
Thirteenth legion. North of the road, forming the 
Flavian right wing, and drawn up along a cross 
road, were the Eighth legion next the main road ; 
then the Third legion, distributed in the intervals of 
thick brushwood ; and next to them the band of 
Otho's old Praetorians who had joined Antonius' 
standard. On the left wing were the men of the 
Seventh Galbiana legion next the road, beside whom 
stood those of the Seventh Claudia legion, whose 
front was protected by a ditch. The auxiliaries 
were placed beyond the legionaries on both wings, 
beyond whom again were some of the cavalry, while 
the rest were kept in reserve in the rear. The 

1 Tac. iii. 12-21. 


battle plan can therefore be represented by the 
following diagram : — 


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Fighting began about nine o'clock at night, and, 
as always happens in battles by night, was confused. 
Order was quickly lost, and hand-to-hand conflicts 
were waged all over the field. The two armies 
were armed alike ; the watchwords quickly became 
known to the men on both sides ; and captured 
standards displayed here and there by both com- 
batants increased the perplexity and disarray. The 
Flavian left was hard pressed, and the Seventh 
Galbiana legion lost men quickly. Its very eagle 
was all but taken, and rescued only by the desperate 
valour of a centurion, who died to save it from the 
enemy. Antonius summoned the Praetorians from 
the right wing to strengthen the wavering line, and 
the battle, now restored, swayed to and fro in alter- 
nate advance and retreat. The Vitellian artillery 
had at the beginning of the fight been scattered up 
and down the line of battle, and its missiles had 
gone hurtling among the bushes opposite without 
doing great hurt to the enemy. But later all the 
engines were massed together on the high-road, 
and their fire, concentrated on the clear space in 
front of them, made the Flavian centre suffer 
heavily. Here again the tide of war seemed 
setting against Antonius, when two of his soldiers 
found a remedy. Their names are not known, but 
their deed is not forgotten. Snatching up shields 
from two of the enemy's dead, they made their way 
undetected over to the hostile line, and cut the 
ropes of the engines. At once they fell, pierced 
with wounds ; but they had saved their comrades 
and their general, for now the enemy's artillery was 


useless. Presently, late at night, the moon rose 
in the east, and shone full upon the faces of the 
Vitellians. The moonlight, disabling their own 
sight, exposed them to the sure aim of the foe, 
while they themselves smote vainly at the shadows 
which the dark figures of the soldiers opposite cast 
far on the ground before them. Ever and again 
clouds drifted over the face of the moon, and then, 
as by common consent, the fighters drew apart and 
rested, leaning on their weapons, until the moon 
shone out full again. Women came out from 
Cremona, some themselves to plunge into the battle 
and be slain, fighting fiercely for the cause ; some 
to carry food and drink to the soldiers of their 
army. The Vitellians ate and drank, and offered 
of the fare also to the enemy. " Come, comrades," 
they cried. " Here is meat and drink : take 
and eat ; take and drink ; that we may slay and 
be slain, but strong and not fainting." Then 
arms were grounded, and the men ate and drank 
together. But, the short rest over, they fell 
again to fighting with bitterness and anger all the 

All through the long autumn night the battle 
raged with unabated fury. Here son slew father 
unawares ; here brother cut down brother. Men 
shuddered at such sights, and, hastening, did the 
like. The Flavian general was to be seen every- 
where in his battle - line, encouraging, taunting, 
rebuking, cheering his soldiers on to yet stronger 
blows and a more stubborn stand. "On that same 
battle-field, yet cumbered with the relics of their 


dead, the Pannonian legions must redeem their 
honour from the stain of the defeat which they had 
once suffered there. The men of Moesia had been 
bold enough of speech against the foe : could they 
not show the deeds to match ? Dared the men of 
the Third to shame the records of the regiment ? 
Had it not fought under Mark Antony in Parthia, 
under Corbulo in Armenia? Had it not but newly 
crushed the wild Sarmatian invader and saved their 
province ? Why above all, he fiercely demanded, 
were the Guards hanging back in the final hour of 
trial ? Had they not even yet drained ignominy 
to the full ? Boors and peasants that they were, 
soldiers no more, did there remain for them yet 
another Emperor, another camp, to shelter them ? 
Their standards, their arms, were with the enemy ; 
for them death alone was guerdon of defeat." 
Everywhere the men wildly cheered their fiery 
leader as he rode up and down the line, and grimly 
they held their ground, until at last the sun rose 
upon the scene. 

Then the Third legion, lately come from Syria, 
saluted it, as was their wont, and the chance salute 
decided at last the day. The word ran fast down 
the Flavian line, that Mucianus and their comrades 
of the Eastern army had come at last. Their 
hopes rose high. The enemy caught the rumour 
and wavered. In one final heave of massed 
column the Flavians thrust desperately at the 
Vitellian line, now ragged, thin, despairing. The 
line bent and gave. There was no rally. Ensnared, 
inextricably involved, among the broken engines, 


the waggons, the heaps of slain, the Army of Ger- 
many broke up into a rout of fugitives, and the 
enemy's horse, cutting, hewing, butchering, drove 
them to their camp. The battle on the open field 
was ended. 

The tide of victory surged up against the gates 
and ramparts of the camp. The troops had 
marched and fought for twenty miles and twenty 
hours. Still Antonius gave them no rest, but 
called on them for the last great effort, and, as one 
man, they answered to the call. A very storm of 
missiles raged for some time on either side. Then 
two columns of assault rushed at the ramparts and 
the gates on the eastern and the northern roads, 
towards Bedriacum and Brixia. The men were 
hurled back. Antonius flung himself among them. 
With significant gesture he pointed to the city : 
Cremona was theirs to sack, if they would rally. 
Himself at the head of the storming column, he led 
the Third and Seventh legions again up to the 
Bedriacum gate. Down crashing on their heads 
came the great engine of war itself, hurled by the 
desperate defenders, and they recoiled once more. 
It was but for a moment. The engine's fall had 
torn away with it part of the rampart. Fresh 
assailants swarmed to the breach, the men of the 
two legions vying with one another in eager regi- 
mental rivalry. The gate was hewn down with 
axes and with swords. Volusius of the Third was 
the first man in. The others poured over and 
through the defences. The Vitellians leapt de- 
spairing from the ramparts as the foe rushed in. 


The camp was cleared of the living among the 
enemy up to the city's walls. 1 

D. The Sack of Cremona. — The actual town 
itself seemed still to defy assault. It was crowded 
with citizens and many strangers who had gathered 
there for the fair, which had chanced upon those 
very days ; and many of the defeated troops had 
escaped within the city and thronged its lofty walls 
and towers, menacing the foe. But Antonius never 
hesitated. Soon the inhabitants saw the fairest of 
their buildings outside the walls in a blaze of fire, 
and others, which overtopped the ramparts, crowded 
with soldiery. A rain of missiles and flaming 
brands again began to descend upon the walls, and 
under its cover the legionaries were seen moving 
to the assault. For nearly three centuries the proud 
and stately city had been queen of the valley 
of the Po. In her earliest years the fierce Gallic 
tribes had raged round her walls in vain. 2 Temples 
and palaces gave her beauty ; walls and iron-clamped 
gates glorified her strength ; the river bestowed 
riches on her fields and prosperity on her citizens. 
Now at last an enemy sterner than the Gaul, fiercer 
than the barbarian, was at her gates. And the 
garrison played her false. The officers, hopeful of 
mercy for themselves, surrendered the city. The 
soldiers sullenly allowed it, or, careless of the end, 
roamed through the streets, plundering or fighting. 
Caecina, who had been hurried there by the army 
which once owed him obedience and cast into the 

1 Tac. iii. 21-29; Dio lxv. 12-14. 
- 200 B.C. The city was founded as a Latin colony in 218. 


city prison, was released from his dungeon, clad in 
the robes and decorated with the insignia of his con- 
sular office, and the men begged him humbly that 
he should plead for them with the victors. " It was 
the last of evils that so many valiant men should 
implore the traitor's aid." The gates were thrown 
open ; the garrison laid down their arms, and 
marched out between lines of jeering troops. But 
soon mockery was changed to pity. The victors 
had been vanquished by the vanquished of to-day, 
and as they had received mercy at the others' 
hands, so now it should be shown these in return. 
Only when Caecina came proudly out from the 
gate, glittering with his train of lictors, did a fierce 
cry of scorn and hate arise. Antonius checked it, 
and sent the traitor under guard to Vespasian. 

For the moment the city itself was spared, but 
only for the moment. The soldiers had not for- 
gotten the insults which the citizens a few months 
earlier had heaped upon them. 1 And never did city 
promise richer plunder. At the crisis of the struggle 
the general had spurred his troops on by the thought 
of spoiling it. He should not restrain them now. 
Already the flames were spreading, and one chance 
word did the rest. Antonius hastened to the baths 
to wash off the blood and grime which covered 
him. The water was cold. " Were not the fires 
lit ? " he impatiently demanded. An anxious slave 
hastened to him with the assurance : " It will soon 
be warm." Question and answer ran from mouth 
to mouth. The time had come to light the fires 

1 See above, p. 136. 


of rapine : this was their general's meaning. Forty- 
thousand armed men, and a yet larger and more 
horrible army of sutlers, camp followers, the refuse 
and sweepings of the vilest, broke into the city. 
For four days it was given up to their maddened 
lust and rage. The chapter in which the Roman 
historian tells the story of the sack equals in ghast- 
liness the tale of the sack of Rome by the forces of 
the Constable de Bourbon, of heretic Antwerp by 
the fanatic Spaniards. When four days had passed, 
fifty thousand had perished by the sword and 
torture, by fire and by lust. Flames consumed the 
city. Only a solitary temple, that of Mefitis out- 
side the city walls, remained untouched by them. 
The very spoilers were driven to encamp three 
miles away by the reek of the blood which rose 
from the poisoned soil. In this way Cremona came 
to its end. 1 

There are wars, even civil wars, which inspire 
devotion and self-sacrifice ; this struggle of a.d. 69 
displayed the horrors of war in all their nakedness. 

§ 7. The Advance to Rome 

A. The Halt at Fano. — The sack of Cremona 
ended on October 31 ; there were still nearly two 
months to pass before the end of the war came. 

News of the victory was sent at once by 
Antonius to the western provinces, Spain, Gaul, 
and Britain. All three presently declared for 

1 Tac. iii. 30-35 ; Dio lxv. 15. The city was rebuilt under Vespasian, but 
the disaster remained proverbial. 


Vespasian, the First Adjutrix legion in Spain 
setting the example. This legion had never for- 
given Vitellius' rise to power and Otho's fall. 1 
Next, the defeated army had to be sent away to a 
safe distance, lest it should still take a part in the 
resistance which the Emperor would offer. The 
men were sent to the Danube provinces, save for 
a few cavalry who took service with the Flavians. 
Distributed skilfully through Dalmatia, Illyricum, 
and Moesia, they gave after this no cause for 
anxiety, and in Moesia were of excellent service 
against the marauding Dacians. 2 There then 
remained only the fear lest Germany should still 
send men to Vitellius' aid. Antonius therefore 
at once sent troops to occupy the Alpine passes. 
The mutiny against Rome which shortly afterwards 
broke out on the Rhine was already so far afoot 
(under the guise of a war in Vespasian's interests 
against the Vitellian troops on the river) that the 
army in Germany was but too busily occupied, and 
not a man was sent to cross the Alps. It was 
Antonius who, by letters, had provoked this rising 
on Vespasian's behalf, and his scheme was so far 
magnificently successful. 3 But, in very truth, to 
encourage those who were little better than bar- 
barians to rise against the Romans, even though 
these last might be of the opposite faction, was 
nothing else than to play with fire, and brought 
quickly a terrible retribution in its train. It was 
as if the English had let loose the Basutos upon 

1 Tac. iii. 35, 44. 2 Tac. iii. 35, 46. 

3 Tac. iv. 13 ; see below, Chap. III., for the history of this rising. 


their enemy in the recent Transvaal war. To this 
extent Antonius lacked the true Imperial feeling 
which, if it delayed sorely the coming of peace, yet 
gave us the chance of goodwill when peace at last 
did come. 

No such thoughts troubled Antonius the Roman. 
The immediate military need was his only care, 
and for this at least he had made most wise pro- 
vision. That he had opened the floodgates to 
rebellion and savagery in the far North, and that 
the flood would not hereafter be arrested at his 
word, he refused or was unable to perceive. At 
least he had stayed the coming of all reinforcements 
from any quarter of the Empire to Vitellius. And 
with this he was well content. 

Having taken these precautions, the general 
turned his thoughts to the enemy in the South. 
The Emperor at Rome might be inert and torpid, 
but at least he would not, like Otho, save his foes 
the need of further fighting by slaying himself, 
because his army had been vanquished on the 
banks of the Po. Moreover, he still commanded 
troops of excellent quality and by no means 
contemptible in numbers. Twenty-five thousand 
infantry, and most of these the veterans whom he 
had made his Guards, could not be played with as 
if they had been a toy army or a rabble of recruits. 
The campaign had opened for the Flavians well 
indeed, but much work yet remained to be done. 
The invading army must of necessity advance 
towards the capital. 

Yet such an advance promised many difficulties. 


From Cremona to Ariminum the road was easy all 
through its length of one hundred and fifty miles. It 
ran over a perfectly flat plain, skirting the mountain 
chain upon the right hand. But after Ariminum the 
troubles began. The great highway to Rome, the 
Via Flaminia, crossed the ridge of the Apennines 
at its lowest point. From Ariminum it ran along 
the sea-shore to Fanum Fortunae (Fano), and there 
struck inland up the stony winding channel of the 
Metaurus, entering the hills at Forum Sempronii, 
a name corrupted to-day into that of Fossombrone, 
the last comfortable village of the lowlands. From 
that point the climb began, by Cales (Cagli) and 
the wild ravine of Cantiano to the top of the pass, 
which lies at a height of 2400 feet above the sea. 
The rise to this was very steep. Thence it 
dropped to Nuceria (Nocera Umbra) and Fulginium 
(Foligno). From Fulginium it crossed the five- 
mile expanse of level plain to Mevania (Bevagna) 
opposite, and the chief natural difficulties of the 
road were ended. But if at places this road runs 
through a fair and smiling land, adorned with fields 
and lanes, flowers and fruit-trees, worthy of the 
county of Devon, at others it pierces rocky ravines, 
crawls up through gorges and rocky mountain sides 
black with oakwoods or bare to all the blasts of 
heaven. The mountains shoot steeply up first on 
the right hand, then on the left, rugged, inhospit- 
able, cleft by great red ravines and strewn with 
broken rocks and screes. The hamlets are squalid 
and miserable, the mountaineers in appearance a 
rude and lowering race. Other tracks cross the 



central ridge, but there is none which can so easily 
be traversed as this of the main highway. Many 
miles to the south the Via Salaria crosses the 
central heights of the Abruzzi from Ascoli to Rieti, 
but the difficulties of the Flaminian way are as 
nothing to the toils which await the traveller who 
plunges by this route into the heart of Italy's wildest 
mountains. More than a hundred and eighty miles 
separate Ariminum and Rome ; for the first hundred 
miles the road is mountainous. And to Antonius 
and his army the late season of the year increased 
the difficulties. Already in November snow had 
fallen on the mountains, and bad weather had set 
in. There was little food to be obtained along the 
road until he reached the great central Umbrian 
valley at Foligno, and December would be upon him 
first, even if the enemy made no effort to block the 
way. Even Vitellius could hardly fail to seize this 
great chance which the winter offered him. And if 
the pass were blocked by the Emperor's army, with 
a strong force at its summit, and fifteen thousand 
men in camp at Foligno, Antonius could never force 
the passage of the mountains in that year. 

Other causes also made the general hesitate. 
There was dissension in his staff, some urging the 
advance, some bidding him delay till Mucianus 
came. Mucianus himself wrote to him in ambigu- 
ous terms. He doubtless desired himself to lead 
the victorious army into Rome. Antonius, some- 
what of a braggart, a veritable soldier of fortune, 
it might seem to the other, had gained success 
enough. The two men hated and distrusted each 


the other, and on Antonius' staff were many who 
looked to the greater man for their promotion, and 
sought now to thwart the general who had led 
them to victory. If Antonius gave the order to 
advance, all the penalties of failure would be visited 
on his head. Mucianus clearly washed his hands 
of all responsibility. The very troops, knowing 
well the quarrels in the staff, were turbulent and 
clamorous for " shoe-money." Jealousy and insub- 
ordination, difficulties of supply, perils of the road, 
defiance by the enemy, — all these troubles, actual 
or possible, pressed heavily on Antonius. 

He moved forward to Ariminum. The town 
was still in the enemy's hands, but the fleet under 
command of Cornelius Fuscus had by this time 
closely invested it by land and sea. There was 
therefore no army upon the eastern side of the 
mountains and down the Adriatic coast to oppose his 
advance. And the timely capture of Valens on the 
Riviera was in every way most fortunate. 1 Yet even 
the march to Fanum Fortunae, twenty-eight miles 
beyond Ariminum, was not without its difficulties. 
Heavy autumn rains had swollen the Po and its 
tributary streams, and the low country of the valley 
at foot of the mountains was flooded to such an 
extent that the heavy baggage of the soldiers had 
to be left behind. Commissariat troubles, too, began 
early. Antonius failed to keep his troops in hand, 
and they indulged in indiscriminate plunder on the 
way. This of course at once doubled the difficulties 
of supply. The force which arrived at last at Fano 

1 See above, p. 184; cf. Tac. iii. 44 for its effect. 


was neither a strong one nor in good temper. All 
the sick and wounded had been left behind at the 
base, Verona, but also the greater part of the legion- 
aries remained there, and Antonius at Fano mustered 
only picked troops from these, together with auxiliary- 
infantry and cavalry. The mountains rose before 
him, and he halted. Further advance was not 
possible until his force was strengthened, supplies 
were collected, and the country in his front was 
explored. Antonius set his hand resolutely to all 
three tasks. The legions were summoned, supplies 
hurried up by sea, and cavalry scouts sent forward 
to discover if the enemy had occupied the pass. 1 
But all this involved delay, and winter was fast 
approaching. Vitellius had his opportunity, if he 
had the wit to use it. 

B. Movements of the Vitellian Forces. — The 
Emperor had meanwhile been waiting on circum- 
stance, and this at last had roused him to action. 
At first, as soon as his army had marched for the 
north under Caecina, and when Valens had pre- 
sently followed after it, Vitellius took no further 
interest in the war. In the pleasant shade of his 
gardens, or under the trees of the woods which 
clothe thickly the sides of the Alban hills at 
Aricia, a few miles south of Rome, the ruler of 
the Empire dozed the days away, heavy with food 
and slumberous, torpid as a fat and well-fed toad. 2 

1 Tacitus explains that he sent the cavalry on to explore the whole of 
Umhria : "si qua Appennini juga clementius adirentur," iii. 52. That the 
Via Flaminia was the easiest route could hardly be in question. 

2 " Ut ignava animalia quihus si cibum suggeras jacent torpenlque," Tac. 
iii. 36. 


The news of the mutiny of the Ravenna fleet 
scarcely moved him. Valens' urgent request for 
reinforcements was answered by the sending of a 
petty force which was far too weak to be of any 
use. 1 Only at last the tidings of Caecina's treachery 
and the troops' loyal requital of it woke him from 
his slumbers in the greenwood. " With that dull 
soul joy had a greater weight than trouble." 2 
Vitellius came to Rome and harangued both Senate 
and people. When the news came of the battle 
of Cremona the orator's powers abruptly failed him. 
Every one at Court went about silently, and no one 
made any allusion to so unfortunate an incident. 
They whispered in the anterooms and streets, but 
in the Emperor's presence no one had heard any- 
thing of the battle. The Government ordered 
silence on the topic, and, if it were possible, the 
disaster was magnified in consequence. 3 

The spies sent out were courteously welcomed 
by the enemy and escorted round their camp. 
Vitellius blandly shut his ears to their reports. At 
last a brave centurion, Julius Agrestis, convinced 
his Emperor that it was time to be up and doing. 
Allowed at his own request, so ran the tale, to go 
out from Rome to discover the actual facts of the 
situation, he went openly to Cremona and straight 
to Antonius, avowing his mission. That general 
readily gave him guides and showed him every- 
thing — his army, the battle-field, the prisoners of 
war. Back came Agrestis to Vitellius and told 

1 See above, p. 184. 

" "Plus apud socordem animum laetitia quam cura valuit," Tac. iii. 36. 

3 Tac. iii. 36, 37, 54. 


CH. II' 

him all the truth. The Emperor refused, as usual, 
to believe a word of it, and suggested that he had 
been bribed to bring such news. The centurion 
was indignant. " Since," he cried, " you have need 
of a sure proof, and have no longer any other use 
whether of my life or death, I will give you proof 
verily to believe." With these words he hastened 
from Vitellius' presence and slew himself. Then 
at last, " as one roused from sleep," the Emperor 
took measures of defence. 1 

His available forces consisted of sixteen cohorts 
of Praetorian, and four of Urban, Guards — twenty 
thousand men in all. To these was added a new 
legion, hurriedly levied from among the sailors of 
the fleet at Misenum, which may have numbered 
five thousand more.' 2 Besides these he had a small 
force of cavalry at his disposal. With such forces 
he still might defend Italy, at least unless Vespasian 
came at the head of all the armies of the East. And 
of him there was no sign. 

The greater part of this force was sent north- 
wards along the Flaminian road to defend the 
ridge of the Apennines. Fourteen of the sixteen 
Praetorian cohorts, the new legion, and the cavalry 
marched out promptly as far as Mevania (Bevagna), 
eighty miles from Rome, near the issue of the road 
from the northern mountains. The other two 

1 Tac. iii. 54. 

- This '• legio e classicis " is of course not Legio I. Adjutrix, which was then 
in Spain (Tac. ii. 67, 86 ; iii. 44), but the nucleus of the legion later formally 
enrolled by Mucianus in the name of Vespasian under the title of Secunda 
Adjutrix. There is a military diploma of March 7 a.d. 70, applying to 
some who have seen service with this legion. Cf. Dio lv. 24 ; C.T.L. iii. 
849, 907. Hardy, Studies in Romaji History, p. 207. 


Praetorian cohorts with the four cohorts of Urban 
Guards were left in Rome, under the Emperor's 
brother Lucius, to garrison the city. Vitellius him- 
self still dallied for some time in Rome, but at last, 
at his army's urgent entreaty, joined the camp at 
Mevania. No enemy as yet had been seen upon 
the pass. He had even men and time enough to 
cross it and descend upon the scattered enemy from 
the hills, hurling them, if fortune served, back in 
rout from Fano towards the flooded valley of the 
Po. The Roman historian himself maintains this 
strategy to have been the right one for him : — 

It was open to Vitellius to cross the Apennines with the 
vigour of his army unimpaired, and to fall upon the foe while these 
were weary with the winter's cold and hunger. But he divided 
up his strength and scattered it ; he gave over to slaughter and 
captivity troops of the keenest courage and faithful to the last. 
Though the most skilful of his centurions opposed his plan and 
would have told him the truth had he but inquired of them, his 
friends held them back from coming to his presence. 1 

Not only did the Emperor refuse to advance 
over the mountains, but very soon "he divided up 
his strength and scattered it." Dire omens, indeed, 
were seen at Mevania, but, as the historian grimly 
says, " Vitellius was his own worst portent. . . . 
Ignorant of soldiering, improvident of counsel, here 
asking one concerning the drill of marching order, 
there another concerning a scout's duties ; here 
questioning whether it were well to hasten on the 
final issue, there whether to delay it ; in his face 
and limbs alike making manifest his fear when each 

1 Tac. iii. 56. 


new messenger arrived ; and at the last reeling 
drunken round the camp " — such was Vitellius the 
Emperor among his troops. 

He alone 
Dealt on lieutenantry and no practice had 
In the brave squares of war. 

The very camp became wearisome to him ; 
doubtless the camp kitchen pleased him ill ; and 
when one more message of disaster reached him 
he left Mevania and returned to Rome. The fleet 
at Misenum had mutinied against him. The rebels 
had seized the city of Tarracina, where the road 
creeps round between the sea and the sheer cliff 
which towers many hundred feet above it and all 
but bars its passage. The city's walls and strong 
position made it a fortress all too hard to storm. 
And now it too was in an enemy's hands, and 
Campania, south of Rome, in a ferment. 

The Emperor at this lost the last portion of 
military wisdom which was his. In that desperate 
situation one with cool head would have seen that 
Campania mattered very little. The enemy there 
were still but a sorry band, and the fierce local 
jealousies between its cities preserved the loyalty 
of some and thereby hampered the hostility of 
others. A very small force sent from Rome would 
have been enough to keep the rebels of Campania 
in check. The true danger lay, as always, north of 
the Apennines. 

But now Vitellius issued his last and most fatal 
orders for the redistribution of his troops. The 
Emperor himself took seven cohorts and part of the 


cavalry with him to Rome. A poor seven only, 
with the legion and part of the cavalry to help 
them, were left to defend Italy against the attack 
from the north. On arriving at Rome, Vitellius 
sent his brother with six cohorts and five hundred 
horse to Campania, keeping with him in the city 
three Praetorian cohorts, and probably the Urban 
cohorts as well. 1 

Thus, instead of concentrating his army where 
it was above all needed, the Emperor made three 
divisions of it ; instead of advancing, as a bold 
general might perhaps have advanced, over the 
pass to search for the enemy, he recalled the 
division now left at Mevania back to Narnia, thirty 
miles in the rear, and only some fifty miles from 
Rome ; instead of at least attempting to block the 
pass by which the Flaminian road crossed the 
mountains, he left it bare of all defence, opposing 
the foe's advance over it by nothing save by the 
snow which had fallen upon it. " Fortune," com- 
ments the historian, " helped the Flavian leaders 
not less often than did their own counsels." 2 The 
cup of Vitellius' blunders was now indeed full to 
the brim. 

1 The figures work out as follows: there were 16 cohorts of Praetorians 
(Tac. ii. 93); of these 14 go to Mevania (ibid. iii. 55), thus 2 remain in 
Rome. Later there are 6 with L. Vitellius in Campania (ibid. iii. 58), and 
3 at Rome storm the Capitol (ibid. iii. 78). If these 3 were Praetorian and 
not Urban cohorts, which is probable, this leaves 7 only for the force at 
Narnia. These would be the "pars copiarum Narniae relicta" (ibid. iii. 
58). Of the original 14 at Mevania, therefore, 7 go back to Rome, making 
with the 2 left here 9. Of these 9, 6 are sent to Campania and 3 stay 
behind in Rome, where also the Urban cohorts probably remain and take part 
in the defence of the city. 

a " Fortuna quae Flavianis ducibus non minus saepe quam ratio admit," 
Tac. iii. 59. 


The diminished army of defence now amounted 
to some twelve thousand infantry and a handful of 
cavalry, some four hundred in number. Certainly, 
now that the pass was surrendered to the enemy 
and Mevania evacuated, the position occupied at 
Narnia was the best possible for defence. The 
river Nar here tears through a narrow rocky ravine, 
hurrying south to join the Tiber, and the Flaminian 
way spanned the valley by a great bridge of three 
enormous arches. An army posted above the 
ravine might easily make the passage of the bridge 
most hazardous to an enemy. 1 From Mevania 
again two roads led to the south — one the Flaminian 
way itself; one a longer road running up the vale 
of the Clitumnus to the picturesque little fortress 
city of Spoletium (Spoleto) at the head of it, and 
thence crossing a low ridge to Interamna (Terni), 
a few miles higher up the Nar than Narnia. From 
Interamna it ran down-stream to join the Flaminian 
road at this city. Thus an army retreating from 
Mevania was bound to retire as far as Narnia before 
it made a stand again, or its flank could be turned 
and its retreat intercepted by a force which followed 
the longer road. The cavalry of the Vitellians were 
pushed forward up this road as far as Interamna; 
the infantry remained at Narnia. In this position 
the small army which was the Emperor's last hope 
awaited the coming of the enemy. 

C. The Capture of Rome. — That coming was not 
long delayed. Antonius' cavalry scouts, whom he 

1 So the actual position taken up was above the " subiectos Narniae 
campos," Tac. iii. 63. 



had sent forward to explore the pass, returned to 
him at Fano with the welcome if unexpected news 
that it was clear of the enemy. The general there- 
upon ordered an advance, and his troops made their 
way over the ridge, encountering no worse foe than 
the snow of mid-December which lay upon the pass. 
There was still the fear lest the unoccupied pass 
should be a snare of the enemy's setting, and that, as 
the Flavians emerged exhausted from the mountains, 
the Vitellians would fall upon them from Mevania. 1 
But no such danger was encountered. Without any 
opposition the army crossed the pass, came down 
into the central Umbrian plain, and advanced clown 
the Flaminian way as far as the town of Carsulae. J 
Here the army was halted. Ten miles away the 
enemy were reported to be holding a strong posi- 
tion in their front at Narnia. Carsulae served the 
Flavians very well for a place of encampment. 
From it two roads sloped gently down hill to the 
valley of the Nar, the one on the right hand to 
Narnia, the other on the left to Interamna, and the 
position commanded a wide and uninterrupted view. 
Moreover, the countryside was friendly to them. 
The retreat of the Vitellians from Mevania had 
convinced the flourishing little Umbrian towns that 
the Emperor's cause was a losing one. Prosperous 
cities on the line or on the flanks and rear of the 
Flavian advance, such as Foligno, Spello, Assisi, 
Todi, hastened to send supplies. There seemed to 
the Flavian leaders no need for hurry. The moun- 

1 For this strategical method for defending a mountain ridge see above, 
pp. 43-44. J Now iuins on 'y- 


tains had been crossed. Vitellius might submit 
without a blow, and surely there had been enough 
of bloodshed and rapine. The sack of Cremona, it 
was felt, had sorely besmirched their fair name. 
Heaven forfend that Rome herself should run any 
such risk, if Vitellius would spare both her and 
himself by making terms with the conqueror while 
there was yet time. Indeed there seemed a good 
hope that the war might end in this way. Ves- 
pasian's elder brother, Flavius Sabinus, had all 
through these months of war stayed unmolested in 
Rome. He had been thirty-five years in the public 
service, of which seven were spent by him as 
Governor of Moesia, twelve as prefect of the city. 
A man much esteemed and honoured, he was far 
from ambitious, and would welcome a peaceful and 
friendly settlement. 1 In Rome also was Vespasian's 
younger son Domitian, now a lad of eighteen 
summers. He, too, might serve as a pledge of 
friendliness. Negotiations between the Emperor 
and Sabinus were already afoot. Vitellius' lethargy 
seemed now not unlikely to be his salvation. The 
Flavians had little fear of him personally, nor was 
he himself unwilling to lay aside the cares of 
Empire and the dangers of an unstable princedom 
for a modest competence which should secure him 
comfort and good fare for the rest of his life in 
some luxurious Campanian country-house. It 
would not assist the hopes of so genial a settlement 
if the Flavian army advanced in hostile guise up to 
the city. But the Emperor must be made to realise 

1 Cf. Tac. iii. 75. 


that he had no chance of prolonging a successful 
resistance. " Out of the whole world nothing was 
left to him save the land which lay between Narnia 
and Tarracina." l Yet still he might be tempted to 
put trust in his armies. It was indeed hard to 
drive sheer facts home into a brain so dull. 

For some days Antonius remained in camp at 
Carsulae. He was waiting for the arrival of the 
main legionary force, which was following in the 
steps of his advance guard over the pass. Until 
this arrived, he had no wish to provoke a fight. 
Its coming made his army strong enough for 
any enterprise and alarmed the enemy at Narnia. 
The hearts of the defending force sank within 
them. The sailor legion was raw and had seen 
no fighting ; the Praetorians must have known that 
events in Rome were tending towards peace. 
Theirs is indeed a hard fate who without need or 
gain die upon the last battle-field in the war — 
fighting when all reason for fighting is ended, slain 
in the darkness of the valley when the day of peace 
is already dawning on the mountain-tops. It needed 
but a little to turn the scale of the defenders' waver- 
ing. From the hill at Carsulae, Varus and his 
cavalry rushed upon the enemy's horse at Interamna 
and dispersed it utterly. The infantry at Narnia 
were isolated. Antonius again and again sent 
offers of welcome and good treatment to the officers 
if they would submit, and these passed over one 
by one to the Flavian camp. Still, however, the 
common soldier remained stubbornly loyal to his 

1 Tac. iii. 60. 


Emperor. His own prefects and officers might 
desert him, but he trusted yet that his old general 
Valens with a new army from Germany would 
suddenly appear, coming down the ridge to his 
succour. To this hope Antonius made a grim 
reply. He sent and beheaded Valens in his prison 
at Urbino. As the general Claudius Nero in old 
days had hurled into Hannibal's camp the head of 
Hasdrubal his brother, so now Antonius sent the 
head of Valens to the force at Narnia. Then the 
Vitellian soldiers, long hoping against hope, saw at 
last that such hopes were vain. They surrendered, 
but with honour. Proudly, in military array, with 
standards and colours and all the panoply of war, 
they marched down from their lines on the hillside 
to the plain beneath, where the Flavian army was 
drawn up in battle order to receive them between 
their lines. Antonius spoke kindly to them, and 
bade them remain at Narnia and Interamna. He 
left with them some of his troops — as many as would 
be able to suppress any rising on their part, yet not 
so many as could terrify or maltreat them. For the 
remainder of his force the path to Rome lay open. 

With this he now moved forward a few miles 
farther down the Flaminian way to Ocriculum 
(Otricoli), a place in the Tiber valley, thirty-five 
miles north of Rome. The days of the Saturnalia, 
the great December festival of the Romans, were 
at hand, and Antonius determined that his army 
should celebrate the feast at this small town. The 
news from Rome was promising : the Emperor, as 
soon as he had heard of his army's surrender at 


Narnia, had practically consented to resign, and to 
entrust the government at Rome to Sabinus until 
Vespasian should come himself. The soldiers were 
better kept away from the city, and the war seemed 
ended. But though Antonius himself kept the 
infantry in camp at Ocriculum, he sent a thousand 
cavalry forward under the command of a kinsman 
of Vespasian, O. Petilius Cerialis. Cerialis was a 
tried soldier, who eight years before had seen service 
in Britain as legate of the Ninth legion. He had 
just escaped from Rome disguised as a rustic, 
and had joined Antonius during the march over 
the mountains. As an officer of experience (whose 
chief fame, however, was speedily to be won in the 
far north), he could be trusted to lead the cavalry 
forward. But so small seemed the need for haste, 
that Antonius bade him ride by cross-roads to the 
Via Salaria and enter Rome by the Colline gate, to 
which this road led, instead of following the direct 
road by the Flaminian way. 1 By passing through 
this gate the cavalry might attract less notice, and 
the risk of opposition or disturbance be lessened. 
The greater time which this route would require 
seemed not worth consideration, when all at Rome 
was said to be so quiet. 

The mistake made by the Flavian commanders 
led to the gravest and most terrible results. Had 
they arrived outside the gates of the city forty-eight 

1 Perhaps Cerialis was sent off earlier, from Narnia, when he could reach 
the Via Salaria by marching to Interamna, climbing the height by the mag- 
nificent falls of Terni to the valley of the Velinus, the " Rosy Vale," and so 
to Rieti, at the great bend of the Salarian way. This road crosses the 
Apennines from Ascoli on the Tronto to Antrodoco and Rieti. It pursues a 
mountainous route, and is rough going as far as Rieti. 


hours earlier, their strength would have been enough 
to overawe the numerous partisans of Vitellius within 
the walls, and the indignation which these in ever- 
increasing measure felt for the Emperor's pusillan- 
imity would without doubt have been checked. 
The stormy day would have sunk to rest in a calm 
and tranquil evening. But the Fates willed that 
Vitellius' sun should set in gloom and raging storm, 
in a consuming fire of slaughter and grim vengeance. 

Antonius and Cerialis had failed to realise the 
passionate anger of Vitellius' soldiers in the city, 
their dogged determination of despair. On the 
morning of the 19th of December a messenger 
rode at full speed into the Flavian camp at Ocricu- 
lum, demanding to see Antonius at once. He was 
the bearer of tidings sent the evening before from 
Rome, thirty-five miles away. From him Antonius 
learnt that the day before, while he and his men 
were keeping jollity, the soldiery and mob in Rome 
had risen, compelling Vitellius to do after their 
own pleasure : that Sabinus, Vespasian's brother, 
Domitian, his son, and a little band of adherents, 
were blockaded and besieged in the Capitol by a 
Vitellian rabble, howling for their blood. If he 
would save them from massacre, Antonius must 
march at full speed to the rescue. Even so, it 
might be too late. 

Not a moment was lost. The Flavian general 
issued orders for an instant march, and he and his 
army hastened at top speed for Rome. There was 
life to save and treachery to be requited. The fall 
of evening never stopped them, and it was deep 


night when they reached a point on the road known 
as " The Red Rocks," six miles only from Rome. 
They had marched nine and twenty miles without 
ceasing. But all their speed was vain. There 
the news came to them that all was over. The 
Capitol had been stormed that day, and its garrison 
cut to pieces. Sabinus had been taken and 
butchered in cold blood at Vitellius' very feet. 
The great temple itself, the glory of Rome, tower- 
ing up to heaven on its sheer rock with the busy 
Forum at its feet, the home of the greatest of the 
gods of Rome, had been destroyed by fire. Glutted 
with blood and fury, the Vitellians had manned the 
walls and held the city. 

The army of rescue became an army of venge- 
ance. Swift and keen as a beast of prey terrible 
in his wrath, the soldiers, when morning dawned, 
leapt upon the doomed city. Cerialis, too, had 
heard the news, and, pushing faster forward, had 
been ensnared among the gardens and orchards 
at foot of the Pincian hill by the enemy's horse 
and foot, routed with loss, and pursued back for 
some miles as far as Fidenae. But when the 
pursuit drew off, he rallied his troopers and ad- 
vanced again towards the city. There was not a 
man in the Flavian army who would lightly now 
withhold his hand from the work to be done. 
Messengers came out from the city to Cerialis and 
Antonius, speaking of terms to be agreed upon. 
Cerialis sent them hurrying back, answering with 
scorn and insult, Antonius with courtesy but with 
equal firmness. No truce was henceforth possible. 



A Stoic philosopher judged it the time to preach 
to the troops of mercy and of peace. His " un- 
timely wisdom " came near to costing him his life, 
and he was contemptuously brushed aside. The 
Vestal Virgins came in procession from the city to 
bear to the Flavian general a letter from Vitellius, 
begging the respite of a single day. He sent the 
Vestals back with all honour, but instantly refused 
the Emperor's request. The murder of Sabinus, 
the burning of the Capitol, had made the war a 
" truceless war " for ever. 

The army swept forward over the Mulvian 
Bridge 1 which crossed the Tiber. Antonius here, 
it is said, would have halted them awhile, but his 
men brooked henceforth no restraint. They moved 
to the assault in three columns of attack, the 
cavalry leading and driving back the Roman mob 
before them. The centre column advanced by the 
main road upon the gate under the Pincian hill. 2 
To its right, another column moved along the bank 
of the river to storm the wall. To the left the 
third column moved round outside the wall to the 
Salarian way to assault the Colline gate, the scene 
of Sulla's desperate battle a century and a half 
ago. 3 The Vitellians defended gates and walls 
with the fierce courage of men who knew that for 
them there was henceforth no pity. From the 
garden walls of the " Hill of the Gardens," to-day 
the pleasure resort of the Romans, the defenders 

1 Now the Ponte Molle, two miles from the gate. 

2 Now the busy Porta del Popolo. 

3 Hard by the Porta Pia, the scene of the far more famous entry of the 
troops of the kingdom of Italy into Rome on September 20, 1870. 


hurled javelins and stones upon the Flavian troops, 
who struggled in a network of lanes upon its outer 
slope and suffered heavy loss. Here the assailants 
gained no ground till late in the day. But then 
the cavalry forced at last an entrance by the Colline 
gate, and rode round to take the enemy in the rear. 
The Vitellians broke and fled, and the hill was 
carried. Meanwhile their comrades of both the 
other columns had also forced an entrance, and 
pushed through to the Campus Martius, fighting 
their way forward inch by inch. At last the 
Flavians were inside the very walls of Rome. 

But still the soldiers of Vitellius fought with 
fury, as they fell slowly back along the narrow 
streets. The unarmed citizens of Rome crowded 
to look on as at some gigantic gladiatorial con- 
test waged for their marvelling and applauding. 
Wounded and fleeing soldiers who sought refuge 
from the pursuer in shops and houses by the way 
were hounded out again to meet their doom, and 
the base civilian reaped the harvest of the plunder 
of the dead while the legionary sped forward, 
always bent on slaughter. Among the heaps of 
the slain, which cumbered every way, roysterers 
and harlots made merry in riotous-glee. One last 
stand was made by the defenders at the Praetorians' 
Camp hard by the Porta Pia. And there, in one 
last splendid sally out upon the swarming foe, 
Vitellius' soldiers perished to a man, all their 
wounds in front, and their faces to the enemy. 
Night fell, and Rome was taken. 1 

1 Tac. iii. 59-84. 


§ 8. The Death of Vitellius 

Thus the Emperor Vitellius lost the greater 
cantle of the world with very sloth and gluttony ; 
he had slept away kingdoms and provinces. The 
end of this his pitiable life may be told in the 
words of Suetonius, the biographer of the Caesars. 
Suetonius' father had fought in Otho's army at 
Bedriacum in the spring of the year as tribune 
of the Thirteenth legion from Pannonia, 1 and may 
himself have seen and told his son the scene which 
the latter tells as follows : 2 

Word was brought unto him by his espiall that the enemie 
approched. Immediatly therfore shutting himself close within 
a bearing chaire, accompanied with two persons onely, his 
baker and his Cooke, 3 secretly hee tooke his way to the Aven- 
tine hill and his fathers house : minding from thence to make 
an escape into Campania. Soone after, uppon a flying and head- 
lesse rumour, That peace was obtained, he suffred him selfe 
to be brought backe to the Palace. Where, finding all places 
solitary and abandoned : seeing those also to slinke from him 
and slip away who were with him, he did about him a girdle 
full of golden peeces of coine, 4 and fled into the Porters lodge, 
having first tied a ban-dog at the doore and set against it the 
bedsteed and bedding thereto. By this time had the Avant 
curriers of the maine armie broken into the Palace : and meeting 
noe bodie searched as the manner is, everie blind corner. By 
them was hee plucked out of his lurking hole : and when they 
asked who he was (for they knewe him not), and where upon 
his knowledge Vitellius was, he shifted them of with a lie : after 

1 Suetonius, Otho, io. 

2 Suetonius, Vitellius, 16, 17. I use the translation of Philemon Holland, 
A.D. 1606. The notes to the translation are his, not mine. 

3 "That made his deinty pastry works and sweet meates : meete grooms 
to accompanie such a glutton." 

4 "15 shilling peeces and better.'' 


this, beeing once knowen, hee intreated hard (as if he had 
somewhat to deliver concerning the life and safetie of Vespasian) 
to be kept sure in the mean season, though it were in some 
prison : and desisted not untill such time as having his hands 
pinnioned fast at his backe, an halter cast about his necke, and 
his apparell torne from his bodie, he was haled halfe naked into 
the Forum. Among many skornefull indignities offered unto 
him both in deede and word throughout the spatious street 
sacra via from one end to the other, whiles they drew his head 
backward by the bush of his haire (as condemned malefactours 
are wont to be served) and set a swordes point under his chinne, 
and all to the end he might shew his face and not holde it 
down : whiles some pelted him with dung and durtie mire, others 
called him with open mouth Incendiarie 1 and Patinarium: 2 and 
some of the common sort twitted him also with faults and 
deformities of his bodie (for, of stature he was beyond measure 
tall : a red face he had, occasioned for the most part by swilling 
in wine, and a grand fat paunch besides : hee limped somewhat 
also by reason that one of his thighes was enfeebled withe the 
rush of a chariot against it what time he served Caius 3 as his 
henxman at a Chariot running) : and at the last upon the staires 
Gemoniae with many a small stroke all to mangled he was and 
killed in the end : and so from thence drawne with a drag into 
the River Tiberis. 

One saying only by him, as he was led along 
amid mockery and torment, and that indeed worthy 
of a man, was recorded, when to a tribune who 
stood insulting him he answered, " Yet once I was 
your Emperor." 4 And presently, on the very spot 
where two days before the body of the murdered 
Sabinus had lain, Vitellius, too, lay dead. 

Rome was taken on the 21st of December 

1 "Or firebrand, because he burnt the Capitoll." 

2 "Or Platter Knight, for his gormandize and huge platter aforesaid." 
See above, p. 132. 

3 Caligula. * Tac. iii. 85. 


a.d. 69. Within a very short while the Vitellian 
army in Campania laid down its arms, and Lucius 
Vitellius was put to the sword. The ten months' 
fighting was ended. It remained for the wise and 
thrifty Vespasian to heal the wounds which that 
bitter civil strife had cut so deep into the body of 
the Roman State. 



Strong heart with triple armour bound, 
Beat strongly, for thy life-blood runs, 
Age after Age, the Empire round — 
In us thy Sons, 

Who, distant from the Seven Hills, 
Loving and serving much, require 
Thee, — thee to guard 'gainst home-born ills, 
The Imperial Fire ! 

Rudyard Kipling. 

§ i. The Tribes of the "Low Countries " 

The Rhine is the only great river of Europe which, 
although not absorbed into a larger stream, yet 
fails to keep its name as far as the sea for at least 
the greater bulk of its waters, and thus all but 
loses, as it were, its own identity. After a course 
of some five hundred miles from the Lake of Con- 
stance, of which more than four hundred, from 
Basle northwards, have lain entirely in German 
territory, the river a mile or two below Emmerich 
crosses the Dutch frontier and, almost immediately 
dividing into two channels, surrenders its name. 
The northern channel, called the Lek, flows by 
Arnhem to Rotterdam ; the southern channel, 



called the Waal, by Nymwegen * to Dordrecht. 
Fifteen miles above Dordrecht the river Maas 
enters the Waal from the south, and the combined 
stream is called the Merwede as far as that town. 
Here at Dordrecht the southern stream is again 
divided. A broad northerly channel, the De Noord, 
flows to join the Lek a few miles above Rotterdam, 
and this channel from that point to the German 
Ocean takes the name of the Maas again. The 
southerly stream from Dordrecht to the sea by 
Briel is called the Oude Maas. The actual name 
of the Rhine clings only to a small channel leaving 
the Lek by Wyk, and called the " Crooked Rhine " 
— Kromme Rhyn. This at Utrecht again divides : 
one branch, now called the Vecht, flowing north to 
the Zuider Zee ; the other, under the name of the 
" Old Rhine " — Oude Rhyn — passing by Leiden to 
the North Sea at Katwyk. A sketch plan may 
serve to illustrate these divisions of the stream for 
the last hundred miles of its course from Emmerich 
to the sea. 2 

The land enclosed by the two arms of the Rhine, 
the Lek on the north and the Waal on the south, 
measuring some sixty miles in length and about 
twelve at its greatest breadth, was known to the 
Romans as the " Island of the Batavians " — Insula 
Batavorum. These folk were a German tribe who 
originally counted as part of the larger tribe of the 
Chatti, who dwelt chiefly north of the Taunus 

1 In Dutch " Nijmegen." 

2 No attempt is made to show the actual course of the streams, whose 
windings are innumerable, but distances are roughly to scale. 


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II li 



mountains by the upper waters of the Lahn. 1 But 
quarrels at home had driven the " Batavians" to 
take up their goods and chattels and wander off to 
the north-west, until they settled in the " Island " 
and westwards of it as far as the sea. There they 
were when Julius Caesar heard of them, and there 
they have remained ever since, still as in Tacitus' 
day " famous for valour." The Dutch name 
" Betuwe " for the land in the eastern part of the 
" Island " preserves their name, as their de- 
scendants continue to preserve their independence 
of their neighbours and remote kinsmen, the 
Germans. 2 

Side by side with them in their " Island," 
probably in the western part of it, there dwelt 
another tribe of close kinship with them, speaking 
the same language, and not inferior to them in 
courage, though fewer in numbers. These, by 
name the Cannenefates, 3 seem to have spread also 
northwards along the narrow strip of land between 
the Zuider Zee and the ocean, from Amsterdam to 
Helder in " North Holland," if the Dutch name for 
the coast here, viz. Kennemerland, keeps their 
memory. North-east of the Zuider Zee and along 
the marshes, dunes, and islands of the coast dwelt 
the Frisii, a hardy race of cattle-breeders and fisher- 
folk, as are their descendants, the men of Fries- 
land, to-day. In Germany and Gaul tribe after 

1 Now Hessen-Nassau. 

2 Caesar, E.G. iv. io; Tacitus, Germania, 29; Histories^ iv. 12. 

3 Cannenefates, Heraeus and Mommsen ; Canninefates, Halm ; but the 
e occurs several times in the Medicean MS. and ap. Pliny, N.H. iv. 101. 
In inscriptions the name is spelt in at least five different ways, but Cannene- 
fates seems the most common. Cf. Ruggiero, Diz. Epig. ii. p. 80, sub voc. 


tribe have wandered over the country, and the 
history of these lands is a veritable kaleidoscope of 
races. But the great gift of the German rivers to 
their children in the Low Countries has been so 
great a security from enemies, owing to the 
difficulty of attack and the poverty in earlier days 
of the plunder to be won, that their sturdy valour, 
already famous in Roman days, has known how to 
maintain them in unconquerable possession of their 
still quiet, land of slow -moving streams. And 
the Romans, perhaps better than any race since 
their day, knew how to make of these peoples 
faithful and useful allies rather than ever bitter 
foes. The Batavians were not called upon to pay 
tribute, but supplied as many as one thousand 
cavalry and nine thousand infantry to the Roman 
army. The eight cohorts of Batavians attached to 
the Fourteenth legion were stalwart if quarrelsome 
troops, proud of their nation and of indomitable 
courage. The Imperial bodyguard itself, which 
protected the person of the Emperor at Rome, was 
formed of men of this tribe. They were com- 
manded by their own nobles and not by Roman 
officers, and by virtue of this privilege also the 
Batavian regiments ranked high among the auxiliary 
troops of the Roman army. Their kinsmen, the 
Cannenefates, in like manner paid no money to 
the Roman treasury but gave men to the army. 
The Frisii sent hides yearly by way of tribute, and 
men as well. These also had been faithful allies 
of Drusus and Germanicus in their wars over the 
Rhine under the Emperors Augustus and Tiberius. 


But they were farther away from the Roman 
influence, and rose in revolt in the year a.d. 28. 
Since that time they had given no small trouble to 
the Romans ; and though, later, Corbulo, the first 
general of his time, had punished them severely, 
the greater part at least of the Frisii remained 
independent of Rome after the Emperor Claudius 
had withdrawn all Roman troops to the west bank 
of the Rhine. Their neighbours to the east, the 
Chauci, a tribe of very great size, resident between 
the Ems and the Elbe, mariners and fishermen, 
owned no allegiance to Rome. 1 But at least the 
"Island" counted as being within the frontiers of 
the Roman Empire. For Drusus' great engineer- 
ing works, made in 9 B.C., had done much to secure 
this. Under his direction the Roman army of the 
Lower Rhine had in that year constructed both a 
Fosse and a Mole. The mole or "Agger" was 
thrown out into the Rhine from the left bank just 
above the parting of the channels below Emmerich, 
not far from Cleve. 2 By this the greater bulk of 
the river's water was directed into the northern 
arm, the Lek, and thus the "Island" was easily 
reached from the Roman shore, while it was 
separated from the tribes over the Lek by a great 
mass of water. The use of this Agger was 
great, and it was strengthened again by Pompeius 
Paulinus in a.d. 55. The fosse was dug from the 
Lek, a mile or two above Arnhem, to the river 

1 Cf. Tacitus, Germania, 35. 

2 Cleve, probably the " Oppidum Batavorum " of Hist. iv. 19, was then 
<>n the Rhine bank ; it is now some distance away. 


Yssel, upon the course of the " New " or " Guelders " 
Yssel, and thus gave the Roman flotilla upon the 
Rhine access to the Zuider Zee. This was equally 
useful for the purpose of any hostile operations 
against the Frisii, and for interrupting in case of 
need the communications of the Batavians and 
Cannenefates with the Frisii and Chauci. 1 By such 
means, and by requiring of them service in the 
Imperial army, the Romans for long years kept a 
grip over the two tribes of the Island. And their 
Gallic neighbours on the south, chief of whom were 
the Nervii in modern Belgium, had for long years 
past been fully subject to Rome. 

Yet once, in the years a.d. 69-70, a great storm 
of mutiny of the native troops in the army, and 
of rebellion among the tribes in these the Roman 
11 Low Countries," broke upon the Roman dominion 
and all but overthrew it. It was truly the " Indian 
Mutiny " of Roman history. 

§ 2. The Cause of the Rebellion 

The cause of this rising was the natural love 
of independence and of liberty which was felt by 
the German tribes who came, however remotely, 
under Roman influence. In its beginnings, 
indeed, the real meaning of the war was hidden 
under the disguise of a movement in favour of 
Vespasian against the Emperor Vitellius, and 
the rising was not only encouraged, but even 

1 The Fosse, Tac. Ann. ii. 8. I. The Agger, Tac. Ann. xiii. 53. 3 ; 
Hist. v. 19. 3. 


directly promoted, by the Flavian leaders. None 
the less this opportunity so recklessly given to the 
tribes was from the first but the mere pretext or 
occasion of their fighting. From the beginning of 
the revolt among the Batavians to their final proud 
submission, the war was an armed plea for liberty. 
The use made of this liberty, had the tribes won it, 
would doubtless have been ferocious and barbaric. 
Circumstances made of the war " one of the most 
singular and most dreadful in all ages." 1 The 
motives of the leaders of the revolt were in large 
measure those of private revenge and selfish 
ambition. To the annals of the Roman army the 
war contributed little but a record of lamentable 
cowardice and dishonour. And yet, in spite of all 
these undoubted facts, the cause of the war suc- 
ceeds in ennobling its history beyond that of the 
other fighting of these two wild years of strife. 
Apart from the audacity or calmness of a few, the 
splendid courage of the Roman troops engaged 
upon both sides, or the misdirected loyalty of 
soldiers to their generals, there is no sunshine to 
light up the thick gloom which enwraps the civil 
wars of Otho and Vitellius, Vitellius and Vespasian. 
There was no great principle at stake in either 
war, and only such can justify the appeal to arms. 
The tribes were fighting for a principle. They 
fought savagely, ignorantly, treacherously. They 
were happy even in their ultimate defeat. Yet the 
cause of their rising did them honour. 

That this was the cause of the rebellion is 

1 Mommsen. 


shown alike in the peoples and in the leaders who 
shared in the enterprise. 

A. The Peoples of the Revolt. — The peoples 
rose for liberty. No other battle-cry would have 
gathered to the Batavians' standards the other 
tribes of the Rhine, some already subject to Rome, 
some threatened by her in past years, and eager for 
revenge as well as plunder. The obvious weakness 
of the Roman army on the German frontier, when 
Vitellius had drained it of all its best troops for his 
march to Italy, and the fierce internecine struggle 
raging in Italy itself, seemed to give the restless 
German tribes a unique opportunity for rebellion 
and defiance. Thus the Batavians and Cannene- 
fates were not left long alone in their endeavour. 
They presently found allies in the Marsaci at the 
mouth of the Scheldt. 1 The Frisii joined them at 
once. 2 The tribes beyond the Rhine seized the 
chance offered them. The Tencteri opposite 
Cologne, the Bructeri on the Ems, shared in the 
first attack on Castra Vetera. 3 Higher up the 
river, the Chatti from the north of Taunus, the 
Mattiaci from its southern slopes, the Usipi from 
the lands opposite Coblenz, made an early onslaught 
on the great Roman fort at Mainz. 4 The Chauci, 
the tribe lying to the east of the Frisians, sent the 
insurgent leader aid not only at the height of the 
struggle, but even again when he seemed in his 
last most desperate straits. 5 Of all the famous 
German tribes beyond the Rhine known at this 

1 Tac. iv. 56. 2 Tac. iv. 15. 3 Tac. iv. 23 ; see below, pp. 264-268. 

4 Tac. iv. 37 ; see below, p. 284. 5 Tac. iv. 79 ; v. 19. 


time to the Romans, not one gave the latter any 
help, and two only took no interest in the war. 
The Cimbri were but a shadow of their former 
selves ; the Cherusci allowed their native indolence 
free play. 1 

On the Roman side of the Rhine the Cugerni 
to the west of Castra Vetera joined the insurgents 
at once, and remained true to them to the end. 2 
Their neighbours the Ubii, inhabiting Cologne and 
the surrounding district, had for some years past 
been a centre of Roman influence among the wilder 
tribes over the river, and were hated and distrusted 
by these in consequence. But the tide of German 
successes swept even these into the movement at 
last, though their motive was always self-preserva- 
tion rather than any active dislike of Rome, and 
they returned to their early allegiance at the 
earliest possible moment. 3 

Finally, there dwelt in Gaul a German tribe, the 
Tungri, far removed from the fatherland. These 
had expelled the Gauls from the district round the 
present town of Liege, in Belgium, in the valley of 
the Meuse (the Maas of Holland) ; and the city of 
Tongres, fifteen miles to the north of Liege, pre- 
serves their name. This folk supplied at least two 
auxiliary cohorts to the Roman army, and these 
had fought for the Vitellians against Otho. But 
the German rising excited at once their national 
feeling. One of the cohorts went over to the 
enemy in the first engagement ; the other quickly 

1 Cf. Tac. Germ. 36, 37. 2 Tac. iv. 26; v. 16, 18. 

3 Tac. iv. 28, 55, 63, 77 ; v. 24 ; cf. Germ. 28. 


followed suit ; and the whole tribe threw in their 
lot with the rebels. 1 Practically all " Germany " on 
both banks of the Rhine was at one time in arms 
against the Romans in this war. Only a truly 
" national war " could have produced such a unity 
among so many widely scattered tribes. The call 
to liberty found then an instant answer in the 
German's heart. The struggle between Roman 
and Teuton never ceased. " Tarn diu Germania 
vincitur." 2 And this most dangerous plague of 
" nationalism " spread even to Gaul, though here 
the tribes, accustomed for a century to the Roman 
rule, resisted the infection longer, and many suffered 
no taint of it at all. But the Gallic districts on the 
north and north-east, which came into close contact 
with the Germans, could not but be affected by the 

The Belgae, chief of whom were the Nervii, 
famous foes of Julius Caesar in old days, were 
neighbours of the Batavians and Tungri. The 
small tribe of the Baetasii dwelt between the Nervii 
and Tungri in Brabant, where the village of Betz, 
near Brussels, recalls their name. The Moselle 
valley gave easy access from the Rhine at Coblenz 
to the spread of the disorder to its tribes, the 
Treveri, whose name is kept in that of the capital 
city of the valley, Treves, and, higher up the river, 
the Mediomatrici, in whose territory Metz lies. 
The news of the rising penetrated the Ardennes, 
travelling up the long valley of the Maas, and 

1 Tac. ii. 14; iv. 16, 55, 66, 79 ; cf. Germ. 2. 
2 Tac. Germ. 37. 


reached the Lingones at the source of the river. 
From this tribe it could be carried over the water- 
shed to the valleys of the Saone and Rhone, and 
be told to the powerful tribe of the Sequani, who 
lay between these rivers and the Jura. And a little 
to the west of the middle course of the Maas, 
separated from the Treveri by this river, the Remi, 
" the leading canton in Belgica," x quickly received 
tidings of the rebellion on the Rhine. 

But from the days of Julius Caesar the tribes of 
Gaul had ever been jealous of one another, and, 
when even the national hero Vercingetorix failed 
to unite them all in his magnificent struggle against 
the Roman invader, no lesser man coming after 
him, when the Romans held the land in their 
masterful grip, could achieve even the like amount 
of success. Gallic nationalism was an ever-present 
peril to the Romans for more than a century after 
the death of its greatest champion. There was no 
single Emperor from Augustus to Vespasian who 
was not made aware of its existence. Yet the 
attempt to win liberty was always spasmodic, and 
a tribe which took up arms for this cause at one 
time would be found a few years later resisting the 
similar efforts of a neighbouring canton. When 
Julius Vindex in the last year of Nero's principate 
gathered round his standard a hundred thousand 
Gauls to fight for Gallic independence, 2 the Sequani 
were among those who took up arms for him ; but 

1 Mommsen. 
2 Tac. i. 1 6, 51, 53, 64 ; Plutarch, Calba, 4 and 6 ; see my Life of Nero, 
pp. 496-497- 


the Treveri and Lingones not only held aloof from 
his cause, but gleefully assisted the Roman Army of 
Germany under Verginius Rufus to crush the rising. 
The two tribes steeped their hands in the blood of 
the twenty thousand slain at Vesontio, 1 capital city of 
their Gallic kinsmen, the Sequani. Yet the Treveri 
had fought for Florus and Sacrovir when these 
rose against the Romans in the principate of 
Tiberius. 2 And little more than a year had passed 
since the death of Vindex, when the policy of these 
three tribes was to be completely, almost ludi- 
crously, reversed ; when the Treveri and Lingones 
were to be found among the foes, the Sequani 
among the friends, of Rome. The German leader 
had every reason to declare with emphasis that 
" Gaul had fallen by its own strength." 3 But all 
his urging of this home-truth was unable to get the 
mastery of this ineradicable tendency of the Celt. 
The great German historian of our own day cannot 
refrain from gibing at this characteristic weakness 
of the Gauls ; for when the attempt was made by 
them in the year 70 to follow the example of their 
German allies and to erect an Imperium Galliarum 
independent of Rome, he labels it " a tragedy and 
at the same time a farce." 4 

When, therefore, the Gallic tribes, their neigh- 
bours, were invited by the rebel Germans to take 
part in their enterprise, their answer was far from 
unanimous. At first indeed they gave ready, even 

1 Besancon. 2 Tac. Ann. iii. 40, 42. 

3 " Gallias suismet viribus concidisse," Tac. iv. 17. 

4 Mommsen. 


strenuous, aid to the small Roman army which 
sought to make headway against the rebels. The 
Treveri stood stoutly on the defence against the 
Germans, even running a palisade and trench along 
the whole line of their threatened frontier, and con- 
tending vigorously with the assailants. A hundred 
years before, the Remi had been Caesar's most 
faithful allies, and now no Roman disaster shook 
their loyalty. The Sequani also refused always to 
join the enemies of Rome. But the early triumphs 
won by the insurgents, and especially the siege of 
Castra Vetera, the Roman stronghold of the Lower 
Rhine, made the loyalty of some others grow cold. 
They remembered the money which they gave 
each year to the Treasury, the men whom they 
were compelled to supply to the armies, of Rome. 
The Treveri, Lingones, Baetasii, and Nervii, joined 
the insurgents. 1 The "hope of liberty" beguiled 

And when once the iron hand of the conqueror 
was removed, the old struggling for primacy 
among the tribes could be renewed, and more than 
one folk dreamt of glory to be gained at the 
expense of their kinsmen.' 2 Surely Rome's end 
seemed hard at hand. Once more, as in Caesar's 
day, the Druids preached rebellion, proclaiming 
that the burning of the Capitol was a sign from 
Heaven that the Empire was departed for ever 

1 Tac. iv. 25, 26, 37 (Treveri) ; 56 and 77 (Lingones) ; 56 and 66 
(Baetasii) ; 66 (Nervii) ; 67 (Sequani) ; 67-69 (Remi). 

2 " Mox valescentibus Germanis pleraeque civitates [Gallorum] adversum 
nos arma sumpsere spe libertatis et, si exuissent servitium, cupidine imperi- 
tandi," Tac. iv. 25. 


from Rome. And the people were but too ready 
to be credulous when the priest preached a holy 
war. 1 Not for a moment was any appeal made to 
any Flavian sympathies which perhaps some Gauls 
might have. But they were bidden think of the 
ills endured for so many weary years, of the " hap- 
less servitude which falsely they called peace." 2 
First war, then liberty, then Empire, but an 
Imperium Galliarum, not an Empire of Rome 
— such was the bait which ensnared them. 3 
The miserable pretext of Vespasian's name was 
quickly flung aside. The secret meeting of con- 
spirators held in the private house at Cologne 
agreed gaily enough together : Liberty must first 
be firmly rooted in the land ; then the tribes need 
but "discuss" together the question of the limit 
they might choose to set to their exercise of power. 4 
These rebels had not even the wretched mockery 
of a senile Emperor for whom to fight, as had our 
own sepoys in times past. " Far be it from us," 
cried Civilis to the Tungri, " to seek rule over 
others. It is not for this that we have taken up 
arms, that Batavians and Treveri may govern the 
nations. Far be such arrogance from us." 5 When 
the company of urchins set out to rob the pastry 
cook of his richest cake, they fared out together 
in all amity; it was afterwards that they fell to 
quarrelling about the largest slice. 

B. The Leaders of the Revolt. — This cause, the 

1 Tac. iv. 54. 2 Tac. iv. 16, 17. 3 Tac. iv. 59. 

4 " Coalita libertate disceptaturas Gallias quern virium suarum terminum 
velinty' Tac. iv. 55. 6 Tac. iv. 66. 


desire to be freed for ever from the Romans, was pro- 
fessed by the leaders of the revolt, at first secretly, 
but later on with open frankness. Their names 
seem those of Romans ; their military experience 
had been gained in Roman armies and Roman 
camps ; but they were no more Roman in sympathy 
than they were in race. Long since, the history of 
Arminius, somewhat grotesquely celebrated as the 
"liberator of Germany," had shown that a Roman 
education was not the slightest guarantee for loyalty, 
but rather an inducement and encouragement to 
disaffection and secret treason. Other instances 
since had confirmed this gloomy fact. The native 
chiefs would come to Italy for education, would 
learn Roman manners and the Roman language, 
and return home to kindle rebellion against Rome. 
As early as the first century of our era educa- 
tion bred sedition. Omne ignotum pro magnifico. 
It had been better if the ruling nation had 
been less well known to the princes of Germany. 
It was easy for them to see signs of her weak- 
ness and vacillation. It was hard for them to 
realise the grim strength of courage and deter- 
mination which was still, even after many years 
of Empire, the bedrock of her people and even of 
some among her rulers. So both Rome and the 
Germans paid dearly for their common mistake. 
But while the common folk who rose against Rome 
may win men's admiration, little of this can be 
reserved for those who of selfish ambition played 
upon their people's ignorance, turned the arts which 
they had learnt from Rome, the skill which they 


had there acquired, to the hurt of their teachers, 
and therefore inevitably added ingratitude and 
treachery to the more venial charge of self-seeking 
which can be brought against them. 

The three chief leaders of the Gauls in the revolt 
were Julius Classicus and Julius Tutor of the 
Treveri, and Julius Sabinus of the Lingones. The 
one great German leader was Julius Civilis. 

Classicus was prefect of the ala Treverorum, 
which served as an auxiliary squadron in the Roman 
army. Tutor had been appointed by Vitellius 
" prefect of the bank of the Rhine." l Sabinus 
boasted that he was great-grandson of Julius Caesar 
himself. 2 Yet there was little Roman about these 
men save the name Julius, and this was the com- 
monest of names for the chieftains of Gaul. 3 Classicus 
was the noblest by birth as well as the wealthiest 
in his tribe. He was a descendant of its early line 
of kings, and his royal ancestors had ever been the 
adversaries rather than the allies of Rome. 4 Tutor 
fought the Romans to the last. Sabinus used his 
supposed descent only to bid his followers call him 
Caesar.'' Julius Civilis,'' above all, was all the more 

1 I.e. to guard the strip between the Nava and Moselle (Heraeus). The 
general "cura ripae " belonged to Hordeonius Flaccus, Governor of Upper 
Germany (Tac. ii. 57). 2 Tac. iv. 55. 

3 Cf. Julius Florus of the Treveri ; Julius Sacrovir of the Aedui (Tacitus, 
Annals, iii. 40) ; Julius Vindex, the Aquitanian noble ; Julius Valentinus of 
the Treveri ; Julius Auspex of the Remi {Hist. iv. 69) ; Julius Biiganticus, 
the Batavian {Hist. ii. 22) ; Julius Calenus of the Aedui {Hist. iii. 35) ; 
etc. Claudius was also a common praenomen. 

4 Tac. iv. 55. 6 Tac. iv. 67. 

6 According to the Medicean MS. of Hist. iv. 13, "Julius Paulus et 
Claudius Civilis." But we have Julius Civilis, ap. Hist. i. 59, and Frontinus, 
Strateg. iv. 3. 14. Hence the MS. reading in iv. 13 is altered to read 
"Julius Paulus et Julius Civilis" (Halm), or "Julius Civilis et Claudius Paulus" 


a barbarian at heart for the Roman veneer upon 

This man was of royal Batavian stock. He had 
served twenty-five years in the Roman army, and 
was, according to his own story, an early friend of 
Vespasian himself. 1 He was brave, eloquent, and 
a ready speaker. Twice he had run no small risk of 
his life : once under Nero, when the then Governor 
of Lower Germany, Fonteius Agrippa, sent him in 
chains to Rome to answer a charge of planning 
rebellion ; once, still more recently, when in January 
a.d. 69 the Army of the Rhine declared for Vitellius. 
From the former peril Galba's clemency had released 
him ; from the latter his own influence with his tribe. 
For the Vitellian leaders feared lest his punishment 
should anger the Batavian cohorts who were at 
that time quartered among the Lingones. 2 Civilis, 
however, was not a man to forgive such insults. 
With the craft of a savage he hid his resentment 
for a time, but waited his opportunity. This came 
when Antonius Primus, the Flavian leader, just 
before his invasion of Italy, wrote to him inciting 
him to cause the Batavians to revolt, wishing to 
hinder thereby the sending of any reinforcements 
to Vitellius from Germany. Hordeonius Flaccus, 
the Governor of Upper Germany, himself specially 
appointed by Vitellius to guard the bank of the 
Rhine, urged the same upon him in a private inter- 
view. 3 Encouraged by these two Romans, Civilis 
declared for Vespasian, even as Vindex in the 

1 Tac. iv. 13, 32; v. 26. 2 Tac. i. 59; iv. 13. 

3 Tac. iv. 13 ; v. 26. 


preceding year had risen nominally on Galba's 
behalf. But just as Vindex had harboured other 
thoughts in his heart when he revolted, so Civilis 
nourished a " deeper plan." 1 When in November 
Antonius, now that the battle of Cremona had been 
won, sent again bidding him cease from further 
warfare, Civilis threw off the mask. By refusing 
to obey, he changed the outward aspect of the 
Batavians' revolt from participation in the civil war 
to that of flat rebellion against Rome. He had 
never intended anything else from the beginning. 
His very personal deformity — for he had lost the 
sight of one eye — he was wont to quote as sign of 
his enmity against the Romans, comparing himself 
in this also to Hannibal and Sertorius, the foes of 
Rome. 2 But neither Sertorius nor Hannibal was 
guilty of the cruel tricks which delighted the German 
savage. The massacre of the heroic little garrison 
of Castra Vetera, when they surrendered at last on 
promise of their lives and, disarmed and marched 
out five miles along the road, were there butchered 
in cold blood, Civilis professed to deplore. Even 
the Nana at Cawnpore was saved from this hypocrisy 
by drunkenness. It was after this deed that, to 
celebrate the work of destruction which was, he 
gleefully thought, now fully accomplished, the 
German barbarian fulfilled the vow which he had 
made when he took up arms, and for the first 

1 The " altius consilium " to which he " studium partium praetendit " (Tac. 

iv - x 3> x 4)- 

2 Heraeus' note is comic enough to deserve repetition : " Er war einaugig, 
wie Hannibal und Sertorius (gleichfalls Todfeinde Roms), Ziska und Nelson ; 
vgl. die Kemerkung Plutarch's Serf. I." 


time cropped short the hair which, stained red 
with dye, flowed about his shoulders. And others 
also should have joy of his gallantry and triumph. 
To rejoice the heart of the fierce maiden pro- 
phetess Veleda, who dwelt amid the black forest 
on the river Lippe's banks, one Roman legionary 
legate was reserved as booty from the butchery. 
Happily his escort murdered him while yet upon 
the journey towards her. And for his little son's 
delight, so ran the tale, this Civilis, this eloquent 
Roman soldier of twenty-five years' service, set up 
captives tied to stakes, to be the mark for the 
child's darts and javelins. 1 This was the leader who 
plunged his tribesmen into desperate war, and above 
all others shook the structure of Roman dominion 
on the Rhine to its lowest foundations. 

§ 3. The Roman Army on the Rhine 

The usual garrison of Germany, or " Army of 
the Rhine," consisted of eight legions and a corre- 
sponding number of auxiliaries. 2 Of the legions 
four were in Upper, and four in Lower, Germany, 
these two provincial districts meeting at a point 
about half-way between Bonn and Coblenz, near the 
village of Brohl. 3 The troops of each district were 
under the command of a legate of at least praetorian 
rank, 4 although the civil administration in them 
remained in the hands of the Governor of Gallia 

1 Tac. iv. 60, 61. 2 Cf. Tac. Ann. iv. 5. 

3 Cf. Mommsen, Provinces, Eng. Trans, vol. i. p. 119. 

4 I.e. who had at least been praetor at Rome. 

SEC. Ill 


Belgica until the principate of Domitian, 1 and the 
collection of taxes was controlled by the procurator 
of that same province until at least the middle of 
the second century of our era.' 2 The Rhine was 
now the limit of Roman military occupation and 
administration. The Emperor Claudius had with- 
drawn all Roman troops to the left bank of the river 
in the lower province after Corbulo's campaign in 
a.d. 47, 3 and Dubius Avitus, after a punitive expedi- 
tion against the Frisii ten years later, had again 
retired behind the river. 4 In the upper province 
since the days of Augustus there had twice been 
trouble with the tribe of the Chatti in the valley of 
the Main, which enters the Rhine at Mainz, and 
two Roman armies had penetrated up the valley of 
the tributary to punish the natives — the first in 
a.d. 41 under Galba, who later became Emperor of 
Rome ; 5 the second, nine years later, under the poet 
Publius Pomponius Secundus. 6 But though the 
small tribe of the Mattiaci under the Taunus hills 
remained under Roman control, and Romans enjoyed 
the hot springs of Wiesbaden and worked the silver 
mines in the neighbourhood, 7 no Roman troops 
seem to have been quartered in the Main valley or 
on the right bank of the Rhine, except that the 
bridge-head opposite Mainz was occupied by a 

1 The first known "legatus Germaniae," as distinct from the "legate of 
the army in Germany,"' is Javolenus Priscus, the jurist, in A.D. 90 (C./.L. 
iii. 2864). 

2 Procurator of Belgica and of both Germanics, Dessau, Inscr. Lat. selectae, 
No. 1340 (? Hadrian), 1362-1 (c. a.d. 160). 

3 Tac. Ann. xi. 18, 19. 4 Ibid. xiii. 56. 

5 Dio, lx. 8. 6 Tac. Ann. xii. 27, 28. 

' Cf. Pliny, N.H. xxxi. 2 ; Tac. Germ. 29. 


castellum, and is therefore still called Castel to-day. 
It was not until the annexation of the Neckar valley 
by Vespasian in a.d. 74-75 that the Romans began 
to push their military frontier forward beyond the 
Rhine in the upper province, and the chapter opens 
concerning the great defensive works, walls, forts, 
ramparts, and palisades which were made to link 
the Rhine and Danube together. 1 

Claudius' invasion of Britain had caused a con- 
siderable displacement of troops on the Rhine 
frontier, since in the first century a.d. the " German 
Army " was the most conveniently placed of all the 
legionary forces in Europe for the purpose of invading 
the island and strengthening the army of occupation 
when it had landed and gained its first victories. 
Hence in a.d. 68 only seven legions lay on the 
Rhine. 2 And the civil wars, above all the Vitellian 
invasion of Italy in the spring of the next year, had 
very greatly drained away the strength of the Rhine 
army to the south. By the summer of a.d. 69 nearly 
one hundred thousand men of all arms must have 
been withdrawn by Vitellius from the German 
provinces. 3 To a certain small extent new levies 
had partially replenished the legions, or the portions 
of the legions, which had been left behind. But the 
new recruits hastily enlisted on the spot were drawn 
largely, if not entirely, from the local auxilia, and 
were Roman in nothing but in name and in the 

1 By far the best succinct account of the Roman " Limes : ' here, and of its 
history from Vespasian to Marcus Aurelius, has been given us recently in the 
last published work of our Master in Roman History, Professor Pelham, in 
his paper, "A Chapter in Roman Frontier History " {Transactions of the 
Royal Historical Society, N.S. vol. xx. 1 906). 

2 See above, p. 26, for these. 3 Cf. Tac. i. 61. 


citizenship which their enrolment in the legions 
gave to them. 1 There was therefore a great de- 
terioration of the troops, not only in numbers, but 
also in quality, discipline, fidelity, as the event was 
but too quickly to prove. 

In the autumn of a.d. 69 the Batavian chief 
Civilis declared for Vespasian. At that moment 
the troops on the Rhine seem to have been distri- 
buted as follows : — 

(1) The Legionaries. — The legionaries nearest 
the sea were those in camp at Castra Vetera," 
nearly one hundred and fifteen miles from the 
coast, and twenty-five from the parting of the 
channels at the east end of the " Island of the 
Batavians. a This place, situated at Birten by 
Xanten, on the left bank of the Rhine just 
below Wesel, was then the chief fortress of 
Lower Germany, and was garrisoned always, until 
the days of Domitian, 4 by two legions encamped 
together. The two legions in a.d. 69 were the 
Fifth Alaudae and the Fifteenth Primigenia, the 
latter under Munius Lupercus as legate. But the 
main bulk of the Fifth with its eagle had marched 
for Italy, and only a detachment (vexillum) was 
left in camp. The Fifteenth, on the other hand, 
had sent only a detachment to the south, and its 
eagle stayed behind with the greater part of the 
regiment. But, taken together, the men of the 
two legions at Vetera mustered scarcely five 

1 Cf. Tac. ii. 15. 

- This I call "Vetera" simply henceforward, following Tacitus, iv. 35, 
57, etc. 

3 See above, p. 232. 4 Cf. Suetonius, Domitian, 7. 


thousand men, and did not amount to the strength 
of a single legion when this was fully up to 
strength. 1 

Thirty-five miles up stream from Vetera lay 
Novaesium, the modern town of Neuss on the left 
bank, twenty-two miles down-stream from Cologne, 
and nearly opposite Dusseldorf. 2 This was the 
camp of the Sixteenth legion, the most " stay-at- 
home " of all the legions on the Rhine, 3 and its 
eagle had never left Germany, though up to a.d. 40 
it had been quartered at Mainz. Its legate was 
probably Numisius Rufus, but he was at this time, 
for some unexplained reason, not with his legion, 
but at Vetera. 4 This legion had sent a vexillum to 
the war in Italy. Its strength in camp therefore 
at Novaesium cannot be put above four thousand 
men at most. 5 

No legionary troops were at this time stationed 
at Cologne. But twenty miles up-stream from 
Cologne, at Bonn, there lay the First legion under 
its legate Herennius Gallus. Most of the men of 
this, the " premier regiment " in the Roman army, 
had been summoned to Italy. In spite of new 
levies it could place only some three thousand 
men in the field. 6 

In Upper Germany, the only legionary troops at 

1 Tac. iv. 22. 

2 Neuss is now a mile and a half from the Rhine. The actual site of the 
camp is said to have been at Grimlinghausen, a mile away from the modern 
Neuss up-stream. Neuss itself was on the river as late as A.D. 1310. See 
Heraeus' note on Tac. iv. 26. 

3 "Sesshaft" — Pfitzner, Gesch. d. Kaiser legionen. 

4 By a comparison of Tac. iv. 22 and 59. 

5 Tac. iv. 26 ; ii. 100. 

6 Tac. ii. 57 ; iv. 19, 20. 


this time on the Rhine were those in camp at 
Moguntiacum, the modern Mainz, then as always 
the chief Roman fortress on the upper course of the 
river, and about a hundred miles south-east of 
Bonn. This also was a "double camp," and con- 
tained the two legions, Fourth Macedonica and 
Twenty-second Primigenia. The latter was under 
the command of the legate Dillius Vocula, who was 
the only general of the smallest merit upon the 
whole course of the river when the revolt broke 
out. The Fourth had sent a detachment to Italy, 
and its eagle stayed behind. It therefore may 
have numbered some four thousand men at most. 
Its regimental reputation was a poor one, and it 
was not to increase this in the coming war. The 
bulk of the Twenty-second legion had marched 
south with the Vitellians. The whole legionary 
garrison of Mainz can scarcely have numbered more 
than six thousand men. 1 

Finally, at Vindonissa, the modern Windisch, 
near Basle, one hundred and seventy-five miles 
south of Mainz, there should have been encamped 
the Twenty-first legion Rapax, a regiment notorious 
for savage courage marred by a tendency to insub- 
ordination. But the entire legion had by this time 
vanished with Caecina over the Alps, there to do 
desperate deeds. 2 

The entire legionary Army of the Rhine, there- 
fore, at this time numbered barely some 18,000 men, 
distributed as follows : — 

1 Tac. ii. 100 ; iii. 22 ; iv. 37. 

2 Tac. i. 61, 67 ; ii. 43, etc. 


At Vetera : Leg. V. and XV. = 5000 men 

„ Novaesium : Leg. XVI. = ?4ooo „ 

,, Bonn : Leg. I. = 3000 „ 

,, Mainz : Leg. IV. and XXII. = ?6ooo „ 

Total 18,000 men 

(2) The Auxiliaries. — It is quite impossible to 
form any estimate at all of the total number of 
auxiliary troops at this time forming part of the 
garrison of the Rhine. A little is known of their 
nationality, their position, and their value ; nothing 
at all of their numbers. 

In nationality the auxiliary cohorts found upon 
the Rhine before the year a.d. 70 were mostly 
natives of Germany, Gaul, or the Upper Danube. 
Thus the cohorts of Batavians, Cannenefates, 
Tungri, and Ubii were Germans ; those of Belgae, 
Nervii, and Nemetes x were Gauls ; those of Raeti 
and Vindelici were natives of the districts on the 
Upper Danube. Cohorts of other races also served 
on this frontier, such as those of the Asturians and 
Vascones from Northern Spain, the Breuci from 
Pannonia, and Silaunenses perhaps from the east. 
But it seems certain that the majority of the 
auxiliary cohorts was composed of native troops 
levied near the frontier itself. Cavalry squadrons 
were in like manner furnished by the Cannenefates, 
Batavians, and Treveri. 2 

The places of encampment for some of these are 

1 The Nemetes dwelt upon the eastern slopes of the Vosges on the left 
bank of the Rhine by Speier, the Roman Noviomagus, and south of Speier 
towards Selz. 

3 Cf. Alex. Riese, ap. Dizionario Epigrafico, sub voc. "Germania." 


known. Nearest the sea of all troops of the Roman 
army upon this frontier were two cohorts of Gauls 
who occupied some petty Roman forts in the 
Island of the Batavians, and probably other corps 
besides of Nervii and Tungri very recently enlisted. 1 
In garrison with the legionaries at Vetera there 
were Ubii, cavalry of the Treveri, and one squadron 
of Batavian horse under Claudius Labeo. 2 Labeo 
was himself kinsman to the insurgent leader Julius 
Civilis, but hated him so intensely that his loyalty 
to the Romans was unshaken alike by imprisonment 
and constant pursuit which he endured at the hands 
of the rebels. He was throughout a constant thorn 
in their side. 3 Higher up the river there was one 
squadron of horse at Asciburgium (Asberg by 
Mors 4 ); at Novaesium there were some auxil- 
iaries ; 5 at Bonn cohorts of the Belgae, with the 
Italian ala Picentina ; 6 and at Mainz were the 
cohorts of the Batavians and Cannenefates. 7 

The best troops among these auxiliary forces 
were certainly the eight cohorts of Batavians who 
had been attached to the Fourteenth legion. They 
had seen much service in Britain, and more recently 
during the Vitellian invasion of Italy. But their 
temper gave great ground for distrust. They had 
quarrelled fiercely with their comrades of the 
legion during Valens' march for Italy, and broken 
out into open mutiny, which it had been difficult to 

1 Tac. iv. 15, reading " Tungrorum " for " Germanorum." 
- Tac. iv. 18. 3 Tac. iv. i8, 56, 66, 70. 

4 On the road between Vetera and Novaesium, twenty miles from the 
former (Tac. iv. 33). 

6 Tac. iv. 62. G Tac. iv. 20, 62. 7 Tac. iv. 19. 



quell. 1 They had repeated the offence later in the 
year while quartered at Turin with the legion, and 
the Emperor had been compelled to separate them 
once and for all from the legionaries. 2 They had 
therefore been sent back to the Rhine, and were, 
at the moment when Civilis raised the standard of 
revolt, in the lines at Mainz, together with their 
kinsmen the Cannenefates. Before news of Civilis' 
rising reached them, however, Vitellius, alarmed 
at last at the threatened invasion of Italy by the 
Flavian troops, sent recalling the cohorts of both 
tribes to Rome. They had started on the march 
when a messenger reached them from Civilis im- 
ploring their help. They hesitated not a moment, 
but abruptly turned and marched for the north. 3 

The hatred of Rome thus displayed by these 
cohorts was commonly shared by all the German 
and Gallic auxiliaries a*t this time on the Rhine. 
The sudden flood of the mutiny swept the whole 
native army away, so that no single regiment could 
be trusted. Old and new grievances, the remem- 
brance of ancient liberties, suspicion and long- 
nurtured ill-will felt towards the alien, jealousy of 
the regular army, dislike of the officers, all com- 
bined to excite the native troops against the 
Romans on the Rhine as they roused the sepoys 
against us in India fifty years ago. Their own 
native officers for the most part stimulated or 
acquiesced in their mutiny. Julius Classicus, the 
insurgent leader himself, was prefect of a squadron 

1 Tac. i. 59 ; ii. 27-29. - Tac. ii. 66, 69. 

3 Tac. iv. 15, 19. 


of horse of the Treveri. 1 When an officer like 
Claudius Labeo was found to lead his men against 
the rebel army, they deserted him and went over to 
their brethren, and he was happy indeed to escape 
with his life. 2 It was, in fact, now for the first time 
that the Roman army system in its method of 
recruiting native auxiliaries was seriously tested, 
and it broke down hopelessly. Recruiting, of 
course, was far more easy when the natives were 
enlisted to serve in clan-corps in or near to their 
own homeland. But that such a saving of trouble 
was very dearly purchased was a lesson first taught 
the Roman military authorities by the mutiny of 
the native army on the Rhine. That Vespasian 
had duly learnt this lesson will be shown at the end 
of this chapter. 3 

In the autumn of the year a.d. 69 the Roman 
Army of the Rhine was therefore weak in numbers, 
and weaker still in discipline and loyalty. It was 
strewn in widely separated fragments along three 
hundred miles of frontier from Mainz to the 
German Ocean. Its commander-in-chief, the 
governor Hordeonius Flaccus, had but recently 
been appointed. He was old, slothful, timorous, a 
martyr to gout, secretly treacherous to the Emperor 
Vitellius, distrusted and despised by the troops. 4 
The army had lost its ablest leaders and many of 
its best troops. It was soaked through and through 
with disaffection, mistrust, inefficiency. It was 

1 Tac. iv. 55. 2 xac. iv. 18, 66. 

3 See below, pp. 329-331. 4 Tac. i. 9, 56, 88; iv. 13, 24. 


ever more and more bewildered and distracted by 
the doubtful issue of the struggle for Empire raging 
furiously in Italy, and, when at last Vespasian's 
cause won the day, it was hostile to that new and 
unknown Emperor. It saw the strength of the 
Roman Army and Roman State rent, as it seemed, 
in pieces before its eyes. It was upon this army, 
in a state so sorrowful and hazardous, that there 
suddenly burst the tempest of a great national 
insurrection, with the objects of which a great part 
of that army sympathised heartily. That disaster 
followed disaster, that this Army of the Rhine 
ceased to exist, that the flame of revolt ran along 
the entire length of the frontier like fire along a 
gunpowder train, — these were but natural results. 
Never had Rome known or endured the like. Her 
army had played her false. Yet in such an army 
how could she have confidence ? 

In the course of a few months soldiers successively of Nero, 
of the Senate, of Galba, of Vitellius, and of Vespasian ; the only 
support to the dominion of Italy over the two mighty nations of 
the Gauls and the Germans, while the soldiers of the auxiliaries 
were taken almost entirely, and those of the legions in great part, 
from those very nations ; deprived of their best men ; mostly 
without pay ; often starving ; and beyond all measure wretchedly 
led — they were certainly expected to perform feats inwardly and 
outwardly superhuman. They ill sustained the severe trial. 1 

But though her army on the Rhine disappeared, 
though her forts and frontier defences were shat- 
tered, though mutiny seemed victorious and 
treachery triumphant, Rome was still invincible. 

1 Mommsen, Provinces, Eng. Trans, vol. i. p. 146. 

Coin of Galba. 

Coins of Otho. 

Coin of Vitellius. 

Coin of Vespasian. 


§ 4. The War, up to the Relief of Vetera 

A. The Clearing of the "Island" — Julius Civilis, 
the Batavian chieftain, had been encouraged to raise 
a revolt on the Lower Rhine in the interests of 
Vespasian, that he might keep Vitellius' troops 
on that river busily employed. In his heart he 
cherished the deeper design of striking for the 
liberty of his native land. The opportunity for 
action was quickly given him. The Emperor 
Vitellius, on news of the Flavian invasion of Italy, 
sent commands for a general conscription through 
the Batavian lands. 1 The officers whom the governor 
appointed to carry out the orders acted harshly at 
least, and perhaps the graver charges of injustice 
and lust brought against them were not entirely 
lacking in truth. Civilis called his tribesmen into 
the secret recesses of one of their sacred groves 
and made to them a fiery speech. 2 They at once 
decided to rebel, refused to obey the Roman demand 
for men, and sent messengers to the Cannenefates 
their neighbours, and to the cohorts of their people 
stationed at Mainz, urging them to join. 3 

The first blow was struck by the Cannenefates, 
who joyfully lent their aid. There was one of 
their tribe, Brinno by name, whose father had 
defied and fought the Romans in the principate of 
Caligula, and the son loved them no better. Placed 
upon one of the large German shields, and raised 

1 Tac. ii. 97 ; iv. 13. 

• Tacitus was not in the grove. Whether some one there later told him 
the speech, or he invented it, cannot be shown ; the latter is the more 
probable. 3 Tac. iv. 14. 


on high above the crowd by his eager followers, he 
was elected leader after the fashion of his tribe, and 
forthwith called them to arms. He sent also to the 
Frisii, calling them to the field, and with his tribes- 
men fell suddenly upon two Gallic cohorts of 
auxiliaries, quartered in the " Island." These fled, 
and, after burning some small Roman forts in the 
neighbourhood, fell back to the upper end of the 
island where with the rest of the Roman auxiliaries 
in the district they stood at bay. 

Then Civilis himself took the field, at the head 
of a mixed company of Batavians, Cannenefates, 
and Frisii. Near Nymwegen or Arnhem, 1 he and 
his army attacked the auxiliaries. These now had 
the Roman Rhine flotilla on their flank to help 
them. But treachery quickly got the better of both 
army and fleet. A Tungrian cohort in the former, 
and the Batavian oarsmen employed upon the latter, 
played them false, and the Romans were speedily 
defeated and expelled one and all from the " Island," 
while the whole fleet of twenty-four vessels was 
either captured or destroyed. 

It was time for the Roman legionary to come to 
the rescue. Hordeonius Flaccus sent ordering the 
garrison of Vetera to advance at once against the 
rebels, under command of Munius Lupercus, legate 
of the Fifteenth legion. He marched the twenty- 
five miles down-stream to the " Island," and threw 
his force into it over the Waal. His army was com- 
posed of the legionaries of the Fifth and Fifteenth 
legions, cavalry of the Treveri and Batavians, and 

1 Tacitus' geographical knowledge is vague and incredibly unsatisfactory. 


also auxiliaries of the Ubii. He found Civilis quite 
ready to fight him, probably again in the neighbour- 
hood of Arnhem. In the battle the native regiments 
with one consent betrayed him. The Batavians 
promptly went over to the foe : the Ubii and 
Treveri ran. His legionaries indeed stood firm, 
and, when the battle was lost, drew off in good order 
to Vetera again. But the outlook was ominous 
enough. A mere handful of legionaries could do 
little to withstand or suppress a national rising. 
And soon the rebels received reinforcements more 
valuable than any which Civilis had as yet gathered 
to his cause. 1 

This befell when the cohorts of Batavians and 
Cannenefates from Mainz marched into Civilis' 
camp, proud and exultant after forcing their way 
through the Roman legionary line itself. The 
men of the First legion had sallied out from their 
camp at Bonn to bar the way north to the rebel 
cohorts. They had trusted that the governor 
Flaccus was hard upon the rebels' heels with the 
garrison of Mainz, and they had hoped therefore 
to catch the cohorts between two fires. Their 
own legate, Herennius Gallus, had been reluctant 
to run the risk. His hesitation showed prudence 
if scanty pluck. For no Flaccus ever appeared 
pursuing after the enemy. The cohorts, experi- 
enced and bold veterans, feared not a whit the 
legionaries and their auxiliary allies whom they saw 
thrown across their road outside the gates of Bonn. 
They formed square and thrust hard at the Romans, 

1 Tac. iv. 16-18. 


whose auxiliaries fled as usual, and the angry 
legionaries found their line pierced, themselves 
flung aside, and the cohorts disappearing gaily down 
the road towards Cologne. Pursuit was out of the 
question, and the legion was left to digest its dis- 
grace as best it could, while the cohorts marched 
calmly north, leaving Cologne untouched, past the 
ramparts of Vetera, and reached Civilis with their 
new honours thick upon them. The bitter re- 
crimination which now occupied the leisure of the 
legionaries at Bonn did not greatly avail to sweeten 
the cup of a very notable defeat. 1 

Civilis was justly encouraged. He was now 
leader of a very respectable force, 2 and could carry 
the war outside the limits of the " Island " on 
his own account. Having made his entire army 
take the oath of fidelity to Vespasian, he sent 
a message to the garrison at Vetera, twenty- 
five miles away, bidding this do the like. It 
defiantly refused. Thereupon with his entire avail- 
able force marching by both banks of the Rhine 
and with his fleet moving up-stream in company, 
Civilis led the rebel force to the siege of Vetera. 
This stronghold of the Romans on the Lower Rhine 
must be taken. 

B. The Siege of Vetera. — " The tide of warfare," 
it has been said, " ebbs and flows on an ocean which 
is studded with strategical objectives." But this tide 
of the German mutiny rolled fast in a narrow bed, 
pushing its surging flood steadily up the valley of 
the Rhine, and presently casting a secondary wave 

1 Tac. iv. 18-20, 25. 2 "Justi exercitus ductor," Tac. iv. 21. 


along the course of the lateral valley of its tributary 
the Moselle, while the main flood went steadily 
sweeping up the greater river to the south. Then 
in due course it receded heavily back down both 
the streams, and its last murmurs died away in the 
peaceful slow-moving waters of the Northern Sea. 
In its rising it lapped greedily round the walls of 
many a Roman fortress ; in its ebb it left behind 
it white staring ruins, and rotting heaps of slain. 
Nowhere did it beat more furiously in its onset than 
upon the ramparts behind which the scanty little 
garrison of Vetera stood staunchly on the defensive. 
Hurled back ever and again, it still foamed up upon 
the defiant barricades, or worked stealthily to under- 
mine the foundations of them. So in the end the 
cruel flood worked its will, and Vetera fell. But 
before this came to pass many weeks went by, of 
siege and relief, of hope and despair, of famine and 
surprise. The siege of Vetera is the one heroic 
episode in the first chapter of this war. 

As was the case with the Residency of Lucknow 
and its small company of defenders, so Vetera and 
its garrison were but ill-prepared to stand a siege. 
Its troops, like our own, had sallied out to find the 
foe, and been beaten back to find shelter in its walls. 
They, like our own, felt the pinch of hunger as the 
days went by, and the assailants pressed them close, 
now by fierce onslaught, now by sullen blockade. 
They, like our own, had scarcely men enough to 
defend the walls, " only 5000 men to defend a 
camp built to hold two legions." They, like our 
own, were hampered and embarrassed by a crowd 


of civilians, traders, women, children, who took 
refuge behind the walls defended by the troops. 
For in the long years of peace upon the Lower 
Rhine many buildings had grown up round about 
outside the military camp " in manner of a town- 
ship," 1 where the Roman merchants and traders 
had their dwellings and stored their goods, and 
where the women and the children of these and of 
the troops had their homes. All these buildings 
had for purposes of the defence to be destroyed, 
and the non-combatants given shelter behind the 
fortifications. This made the demand upon the 
stock of provisions all the heavier, and these, largely 
through the garrison's own fault, were already too 
scanty. The very defences themselves had been 
built in the days of Augustus rather to serve as a 
good base of operations directed against the German 
tribes over the river, and as a post from which to 
observe their movements, than to protect Roman 
legionaries against attack. The greatest and most 
prudent of all the emperors had not foreseen so 
desperate a reversal of fortune. Hence the very 
fortifications were inadequate. If the Roman did 
not entirely accept the modern maxim that the 
history of entrenched camps is almost always the 
history of capitulations, yet at least he too relied on 
arms in the field rather than on stone walls for 
victory and for safety. 2 

Yet for all this there was never a moment's 

1 " In niodum municipii " : an excellent example of the growth of towns 
as due to the system of permanent cantonments. 
- Tac. iv. 21-23. 


thought of capitulation, of even parleying with the 
rebels. " They would not," they sent answer to 
Civilis, " listen to a traitor's advice nor to that 
of enemies. Vitellius was their Emperor : they 
would keep their faith to him and their weapons 
until their last breath. Let not a runaway Batavian 
think to control the destinies of Romans. Let 
him rather expect the due penalty of his desertion." 
In the old spirit of the Romans in Gaul a century 
earlier, they provoked the enemy to wrath and bade 
him do his worst. Walls and entrenchments were 
hastily strengthened, and the garrison waited for 
the coming of the rebels. 

They had not long to wait. Furious with 
wrath at the answer given to his challenge, Civilis 
passionately hurled his motley army upon the fort. 
Here veteran troops advanced under the worn 
colours of the Roman army, and plied all Roman 
arts of siege-craft. There wild barbarians rushed to 
swarm over the defences, brandishing on high the 
rudely carved images of wild beasts, which signified 
each its special tribe and nation, and had been 
brought from the gloomy recesses of sacred forests 
to urge their savages forward to the work of plunder 
and of butchery. With rocks and stones hurled by 
the catapults mounted on the walls, and with fiery 
spears, the garrison, grimly fighting, drove back 
all assaults, and when night fell the fort was still 
inviolate. Civilis' first attempt had failed. 

The insurgent leader knew that but a few days' 
provisions were all that remained to the besieged. 
He ceased from further direct attack, and his army 


was spread round the walls, waiting for hunger or 
for treachery to do the work where force had 
failed, like some crafty beast of prey couching 
long before the final spring. Now, if ever, the 
Romans higher up the river must march to relieve 
the garrison and raise the blockade. 

C. The Advance of the Relieving Army. — Even 
the old infirm governor, Hordeonius Flaccus him- 
self, saw that Vetera must if possible be saved. 
Not only did he issue orders at Mainz for the 
instant sending of a relieving army from that camp, 
but he himself accompanied it. Fearful, however, 
of the toils of a march, he journeyed by water down- 
stream, which failed to increase the small respect in 
which his troops already held him. The officer 
appointed to lead the force by land was Dillius 
Vocula, legate of the Twenty-second legion. His 
army consisted of picked soldiers from the two 
legions encamped at Mainz, the Fourth and Twenty- 
second, and was constantly increasing in numbers 
during the march to the north by the addition of 
Gallic auxiliaries who, at Flaccus' orders, came to 
join the army. The distance from Mainz to Vetera 
was one hundred and seventy-five miles. For the 
first hundred miles, as far as Bonn, Vocula met with 
no opposition, and advanced by forced marches. 
At Bonn the men of the First legion were added 
to the relieving column. And at Cologne, twenty 
miles on, Hordeonius Flaccus, finding himself hope- 
lessly unpopular with the troops, finally handed 
over the entire control of all the operations to the 
legionary legate. Vocula had put down disaffection 


and lack of discipline with a firm hand, and the 
soldiers admired him the more they feared him. 

But from Cologne onwards the difficulties of the 
relieving army multiplied. Vocula was hampered 
not only by lack of supplies and an inefficient com- 
missariat staff, but also by an exceptionally low 
Rhine. The state of the river not only made 
all navigation very difficult, and delayed the corn 
ships, but it also made it necessary to post patrols 
at intervals all along the left bank to prevent parties 
of Germans crossing and falling upon the flank or 
rear of the Roman column as it advanced. Pro- 
gress was, therefore, very slow, the more so as the 
men were dispirited, and troops in this state of 
mind march very badly. " The old defences of the 
Empire," they said, " were deserting them : the gods 
were angry." At Novaesium, however, twenty-two 
miles below Cologne, fresh reinforcements were 
picked up in the men of the Sixteenth legion ; and 
the legate of that legion, Herennius Gallus, now 
shared with Vocula the responsibilities of command. 
But here part of the army was left in camp with 
Flaccus, the governor. The foe were now close at 
hand, and a fortified base camp was necessary. 
The rest of the column then marched slowly for- 
wards as far as Gelduba, where a small fort on 
rising ground overlooked the Rhine. 1 This is now 
the village of Gellep, between Kaiserwerth and 
Urdingen. Here the two generals, Vocula and 
Gallus, halted their men. Vetera was only twenty- 
five miles away, but the country was swarming with 

1 Cf. Pliny, Nat. Hist. xix. 5, 90. 


foes in front and on both flanks. The fort was hold- 
ing out stubbornly, and the generals of the reliev- 
ing army would take no risks with their own force. 
The position at Gelduba was strongly entrenched, 
and some time actually was spent in drilling and 
exercising the army. More valuable training, how- 
ever, was afforded by an expedition of part of the 
force under Vocula against a hostile tribe, which 
threatened the left flank of any farther advance. 
These, the Cugerni, were Germans, and possibly the 
remnants of the ancient Sugambri, whom Tiberius 
sixty years before had settled on the left bank of 
the Rhine. They now dwelt in the district round 
the modern small town of Goch, thirteen miles 
west of Xanten (Vetera). They had joined Civilis, 
and a raid upon their territory, it was hoped, would 
teach them to keep quiet for the present. During 
Vocula's absence a stranded corn ship led to a fight 
between the Romans left in camp at Gelduba and 
the marauding Germans, who came down upon the 
vessel to plunder her. In this the Romans got 
the worse, and lost the ship. The troops, as 
usual, were furious with their general Gallus, and 
only Vocula's timely return and stern treatment of 
the ringleaders stopped another incipient mutiny. 
The patrols on the river bank had proved quite 
unable to prevent German roving bands from 
crossing the stream. Vocula, therefore, found the 
enemy active behind him, threatening his supply 
trains, and ravaging the lands of his still faithful 
allies, the Ubii round Cologne. Even Marcodurum, 
the present Diiren on the Roer, twenty-four miles 


west-south-west of Cologne, garrisoned carelessly by 
a cohort of this loyal tribe, who trusted for safety 
rather to their distance from the Rhine than to 
vigilance, was surprised and sacked by the enemy, 
contemptuous alike of the Roman camps at Nova- 
esium and Gelduba. That the relieving army was 
itself in a state of semi-blockade at Gelduba is 
shown by its long-continued inactivity. 1 

Meanwhile the Germans grew weary of the 
blockade of Vetera. The garrison might be 
starving, but it gave no signs of any thought of 
surrender. The approach of the relieving army 
also seemed to call for greater efforts by the 
besiegers, and while Vocula and his men were 
miserably wasting time at Gelduba instead of 
pushing right through to the beleagured fortress, 
a fierce assault by the enemy again tested the 
endurance and valour of its garrison to the utmost. 
All messages to them from the relieving column, 
all news of its despatch or approach, had been care- 
fully intercepted by Civilis. For all they knew 
they were left to their fate, to starve or to perish 
fighting, unless they would betray their honour. 
And now a still greater mass of German savages 
from over the Rhine flung themselves upon the 
entrenchments. The night did but add to the 
perils and horrors of the day. Huge fires were 
seen blazing in the enemy's lines, just outside their 
ramparts, and the figures of the barbarians were lit 
up by the flames as they sat drinking and carousing. 
Then, hot with wine, the savages swarmed again to 

1 Tac. iv. 24-28. 


the assault. But the light of the fires made their 
bodies an easy mark for the steady, deliberate, and 
unerring aim of the legionaries. Many of their 
bravest chiefs had been picked off, while the walls 
of the camp, dark and frowning, defied the blind 
shooting of the enemy, before Civilis noticed the 
error of his men. Then the fires were stamped 
out, and the blackness of night covered the move- 
ments of besiegers and besieged alike. But the 
legionaries fought grimly on by ear, now that sight 
failed them. Heavy stakes and stones were hurled 
down into the darkness where the noise was loudest. 
The sound of scaling ladders planted against the 
walls called them instantly to the spot. They 
thrust the stormers back with their shields, and 
followed their flight with a rain of javelins. Yet 
many of the foe made good their footing on the 
ramparts, there to meet death from the short stab- 
bing sword of the legionary. The grey dawn 
brought new methods, but no relaxation of attack. 
The Batavians wheeled a great two-storied tower 
crammed with men up to the Praetorian gate, where 
the level ground gave them easy access. It was 
battered to pieces by the Romans with poles and 
beams, and a sudden sally drove the enemy off. 
If one more rash than his comrades approached 
within reach of the walls, he was suddenly 
gripped by the iron hand of a crane, whirled up 
into the air before his fellows' very eyes, and flung 
a mangled body over the rampart wall into the 
heart of the camp. Once more the garrison had 
repelled this most savage of onslaughts. The dis- 


comfited Germans drew off, and sate down sullenly 
again to beleaguer the fort which no courage of 
theirs could take. 1 

D. The Relief of Vetera. — At this point there 
arrived in the Roman camp at Gelduba the news of 
the battle of Cremona. It made no difference to 
the military operations. The tidings, it is true, 
were at once sent to Civilis. He was informed 
that the Roman army on the Rhine had renounced 
its allegiance to Vitellius and declared for Vespasian. 
His object, therefore, had been won, and it was 
time for him to cease from all further hostilities. 
Civilis took no notice, but with still greater energy- 
urged on the war. Thereby he at last threw aside 
the mask, and the struggle, which up to this point 
could have been in theory viewed merely as a 
chapter in the history of the Civil War, hence- 
forward took on its. true colours of a national rising 
of the Germans against Rome. Politically and 
historically this was most significant. But its 
only influence upon the course of the war was 
that it lent all the greater reason for hate, if not 
the greater hatred, to the combatants on both 
sides. 2 

The relieving army was not left undisturbed in 
camp at Gelduba. Civilis, keeping enough men 
to carry on the blockade of Vetera, sent the rest to 
rush the Roman camp. Sacking a small fort on 
the way at Asciburgium, near Mors, twenty miles 
south of Vetera, the Germans completely surprised 
the Roman army, and, forcing their way into the 

1 Tac. iv. 28-30. 2 Tac. iv. 31, 32. 



lines, began a ready massacre in the midst of the 
general panic. The German and Gallic auxiliaries 
of Vocula were utterly terrified, and their cowardice 
all but led to a complete disaster. From this the 
Roman general was saved only by the timely arrival 
of some cohorts of Spanish auxiliaries, the Vascones. 
These, who had recently been levied by Galba, 
none the less understood the primary duty of the 
soldier, and, hearing the noise of the fighting when 
they were still some distance from the camp, 
marched straight to the sound. They came un- 
expectedly upon the enemy in the rear, and the 
consternation which they caused gave time to the 
legionaries to rally from their first shock of sur- 
prise, and drive the Germans with heavy loss from 
the camp. But Vocula or his sentries had done 
little to earn the esteem of the army by this 

Neither did he follow up at once the success 
which, somewhat in his own despite, he had gained. 
Had he done this, in the opinion of the Roman 
historian, the German army would have melted 
away, and Vetera would have been relieved without 
further trouble. But still Vocula tarried at Gel- 
duba, and thereby gave Civilis the chance to play 
one last card. Direct assault had twice failed. 
Hunger had been defied. The attack upon the 
relieving army had been repulsed. Perhaps strata- 
gem would give him the prize which seemed so 
nearly in his grasp. The garrison had heard 
nothing of the approach of a relieving force, until 
one morning they saw paraded outside the ramparts 


the captive standards of a Roman army and a string 
of Roman prisoners. They were colours and men 
taken in the attack on Gelduba, and were con- 
temptuously displayed as sole survivors of the one 
army which could have come to save the fort. But 
Civilis' trick recoiled on his own head. One of 
the prisoners — and history would have done well to 
record his name — shouted to the besieged a few 
words, enough to tell them the truth, that the Army 
of the Rhine was not destroyed, but was even then 
hard at hand. His captors struck him dead to 
earth, but his heroism had saved the garrison from 
despair. And soon, as they strained their eyes 
over the illimitable expanse of plain towards the 
south, they saw smoke rising upon the horizon. 
Vocula and his army had struck camp at last, and 
the burning houses, which on their advance they 
put to the flames, gave the signal of their approach. 
The whole German beleaguering force drew out to 
meet the coming foe. The anxious garrison saw their 
comrades rapidly advance, and halt. Next came a 
moment's pause, when it seemed as if they would 
entrench themselves against the German onslaught. 
But then the whole weary army, animated as by 
one wild longing for battle, in little order but with 
fierce shouts, dashed upon the waiting Germans. 
Every gate of Vetera was at once flung open, and 
the besieged garrison sallied out to join in the 
last desperate onset on the enemy. The fighting 
was bitter. But presently down went the rebel 
leader's horse, and the rumour spread fast that 
Civilis was slain. The Germans fled in wild panic, 


and the Romans at last marched into the camp 
which had been so stoutly defended. 1 

§ 5. Flood Tide : The Success of the Mutiny 

A. The Retention of Vetera. — Vetera was success- 
fully relieved. There then followed on Vocula's part 
an action which remains the one military puzzle of 
this war. The general strengthened the defences 
of the camp, sent away all non-combatants under 
escort up-stream to Novaesium, took one thousand 
of the best men from the old garrison and added 
them to his own force, and with this small addition 
to his strength retired again up the river to Gel- 
duba. In actual fact, against his orders more than 
one thousand followed the return march, and when 
these were commanded to return to Vetera they 
refused, saying that they had endured the hard- 
ships of a siege long enough already. There was, 
therefore, a Roman garrison still left behind in the 
fortress, of numbers smaller by more than a fifth 
than before. It is true that a certain amount of 
provisions had been supplied to them ; they were 
relieved from the presence of a hungry unwarlike 
crowd of civilians, and their defences had been im- 
proved. None the less they sent after Vocula, 
complaining bitterly that he had abandoned them 
to their fate, and imploring him to return. Certainly 
they were left to themselves in the middle of a 
savagely hostile country, and at any minute the 
fate from which Vocula had marched to save them 

1 Tac. iv. 33, 34. 



might seem to threaten them again. Had they 
been once relieved only to endure again the agony 
of suspense, the perils of assault, the miseries of 
blockade ? The Germans had vanished ; but when 
the Roman army withdrew southwards, how could 
it be but that they would reappear in greater 
numbers and lively exultation ? Then, would 
Vocula again come to save them ? Who knew but 
that the uncertainties of war would compel his 
presence elsewhere? If this were the case they, 
a weakened garrison, must endure the extremest 
penalties at the savages' hands. 

When once the relief of Vetera had been accom- 
plished at the cost of such toil and fighting, one of 
two courses might have seemed open to the Roman 
general. He might have held the fort with his 
whole force and made it the base of operations 
for an advance upon the foe whom he had just 
heavily defeated. Or, if he judged this too rash, 
he might, now that the primary object of his march, 
the rescue of the garrison, had been gained, have 
evacuated and destroyed Vetera, falling back with 
the whole army as far towards Mainz as he thought 
it expedient, taking the rescued with him. A very 
few days proved clearly that the first of these plans 
was beyond his strength, owing to the difficulty 
of supplies. The enemy were by now complete 
masters of the river. All supplies, therefore, had 
to come by road from Novaesium. A first convoy 
got through safely, while Civilis was recovering 
from his recent defeat. But a second attempt met 
with woeful results. Vocula had again despatched 


the corn collectors with a strong escort and waggons 
north to Novaesium. The escort was guilty of 
scandalous carelessness. They never gave a thought 
to the possible appearance of the enemy, but stowed 
their heavy weapons gaily in the empty waggons, 
and strolled blithely along the road beside them or 
wandered over the countryside. Presently the 
convoy halted. There was an obstacle on the 
narrow road in front. Up from ambush sprang the 
Germans and fell upon them. Sheer desperate 
fighting, lasting all the day, did at the end carry the 
Romans through to Gelduba, where they found 
protection at the camp there. But to escort a 
laden convoy thence back along the road to Vetera 
seemed beyond their powers. 1 It was clear that 
Vocula, if he stayed at Vetera, had not men enough 
to guard his line of communications and to carry on 
offensive operations as well. 

The Roman historian himself at this point passes 
judgment upon Vocula in a manner which does little 
credit to the general's military intelligence, and 
none at all to his own. It is a veritable master- 
piece of improbability, almost of folly. Tacitus 
states his belief that, after his victory over Civilis 
outside Vetera, Vocula ought again immediately 
to have pursued the flying enemy. If, instead of 
this, he busied himself in strengthening the fortifica- 
tions, " as if another siege were threatening," " he 

1 I do not know why Mommsen {Provinces, Eng. Trans, vol. i. p. 135) 
supposes the attack on the convoy to have been when it was proceeding " with 
provisions *' in the reverse direction from Novaesium to Gelduba. It is clear 
from iv. 35 that the waggons were empty, and that the "quantum in regressu 
discriminis adeundum foret " is a thought for the future, not an experience of 
the past. 


had misused victory so often that he was rightly 
suspected of preferring war." l This preference, it 
is to be supposed, was for war rather than peace, 
and not for war rather than victory. Presumably 
the general felt that his talents were best displayed 
in war, and therefore desired this to continue ! He 
therefore fortified Vetera instead of pursuing the 

It is hard to speak calmly of such a judgment, of 
him who passed it, of those who seem to accept it." 
Vocula had already had every reason to distrust the 
temper of his own troops, to appreciate the great- 
ness of the danger threatened by the Germans' 
bravery and cunning. He had just extricated a 
beleaguered garrison with very serious difficulty. 
He was involved in a country swarming with savage 
foes. His own life was every moment at stake — not 
only imperilled by the enemy, but also by mutiny 
and treachery among his own troops. Only inflexible 
severity and success in war had kept his own regi- 
ments in hand. Had another immediate success 
been possible for him, as Tacitus supposes, not 
only military fame and honour, but self-preservation 
itself, must have compelled him to do his utmost 
to secure it. 

If Vocula did not pursue the enemy, either 

1 Tac. iv. 34 : " Sed Vocula, omissis fugientium tergis, vallum tui risque ca- 
strorum augebat, tamquam rursus obsidium immineret, corrupta totiens victoria 
non falso suspectus bellum made." 

2 As e.g. in Church and Brodribb : " The line of conduct which he actually 
pursued was so inexplicable as to suggest suspicions of treachery, which the 
historian himself seems to have thought justified by the facts" (The History 
of Tacitus, p. 243). Cm bono the " treachery " ? Vocula at least lost his 


at once or after some days had passed, the simple 
explanation is that he did not feel himself strong 
enough to do so. His object had been the rescue 
of the garrison. This was at last effected. But 
pursuit was a very different matter. Even after a 
battle fought and won for the sake of victory upon 
the field, immediate pursuit does not follow as a 
necessary consequence. 

The fear of a return blow provoked by premature pursuit and 
of losing the fruits of victory in the endeavour to make it more 
complete will always restrain him [the commander-in-chief]. . . . 
Every battle entails extreme excitement and the utmost strain 
of all the intellectual and physical forces. A state of exhaustion 
accordingly follows as a natural consequence. After a victory, 
moreover, there is a feeling that further sacrifices are purpose- 
less, or that they would not be sufficiently recompensed by the 
probable additional results. 1 

Certainly for immediate pursuit after a desperate 
battle, and with troops utterly worn out by marching 
and fighting, Vocula could have neither inclination 
nor the means. For an advance northwards against 

1 Von der Goltz, The Nation in Anns, pp. 362-363. Of course this 
writer insists that this reluctance to pursue is due chiefly to modern conditions 
of war: "This immediate pursuit," he goes so far as to say, "has not only 
nearly always not taken place in late wars, but it lies in the nature of the 
modern battle that it will, as a rule, be absent." The Russo-Japanese War 
confirms his statement. Cf. too the very striking sentence of our own British 
general : "It is perhaps necessary to have been a responsible commander 
during an attack to realise the immense reaction of relief when success is 
attained, a reaction coincident with an intense longing to tempt fate no 
further. ' You have won the battle,' a voice seems to whisper in your ear ; 
* the enemy are going : for God's sake let them go ; what right have you to 
order still more men to lose their lives this day ? ' " (Sir Ian Hamilton, A 
Staff-Officer's Scrap-Book, vol. i. p. 117). Part of this feeling would hardly 
be applicable to Vocula, or indeed to any other general in savage warfare. 
But the " reaction" felt after victory would be all the stronger when the fruits 
of victory were the very tangible ones of a rescued garrison, and these had 
been fully secured by it. 


the Germans after allowing his men a few days' 
rest, the general had neither men nor, as has been 
seen, food enough. Truly it needed " the most 
unmilitary of historians " to suggest that the suspi- 
cion, product of ignorance and malignity combined, 
was true, that Vocula failed to pursue because he 
desired to protract the war. This, too, must be 
added to the large rubbish - heap of Tacitus' 
41 military " judgments. 

The Roman general was therefore unable either 
to advance against the Germans from Vetera or to 
remain there with his force. But — the real problem 
— why did he not then evacuate it altogether ? 1 

It cannot be supposed with probability that 
Vocula deliberately intended to sacrifice to his own 
safety the remnants of the garrison whom he left 
behind ; that to cover a dangerous retreat it was 
necessary to leave a force behind him in Vetera, 
although he knew that this force would, as a conse- 
quence, be destroyed. It is true that, if this situa- 
tion had then actually existed, a Roman general 
might have been willing to demand this self-sacrifice 
of his rear-guard. This had actually happened but 
a short while before in Judaea, where at Bethoron 
a gallant little rear-guard of four hundred men 

1 Mommsen supposes that when the convoy was cut up Vocula went 
temporarily to Gelduba to its support, but always intended to return to 
Vetera. His men, however, refused to return "and to take upon themselves 
the further sufferings of the siege in prospect ; instead of this they marched to 
Novaesium, and Vocula, who knew that the remnant of the old garrison of 
Vetera was in some measure provisioned, had for good or evil to follow " 
{Provinces, Eng. Trans, vol. i. p. 135). There is not a hint of anything of 
this in Tacitus, and, though we may criticise the motive ascribed him by the 
historian, yet in the fact as stated that he chose to do what he did we must 
needs believe. Surely Mommsen's view is based on a wrong interpretation 
of the words " aliis redire in castra abnuentibus " ? 


had willingly laid down their lives in order to 
ensure the safe retreat of the main army. 1 When 
Havelock relieved Lucknow, he found himself un- 
able to extricate the garrison and non-combatants. 
He therefore, being also unable to keep open his 
line of communications, allowed himself and his 
force to be besieged anew until Colin Campbell's 
second army of relief advanced to save the whole. 
There were Roman commanders who would, under 
these conditions, have done their utmost to extricate 
the troops and have left the non-combatants to 
their pitiable fate. 2 But, as a matter of fact, things 
were not yet so desperate with Vocula and his 
army. The non-combatants had been sent away 
to safety without difficulty. The whole force might 
have been withdrawn with still greater ease, since 
the Germans took some time to recover from their 
defeat. 3 

That the Roman general had some strategical 
object in view when he left a garrison in Vetera is 
certain. That in this he made a bad miscalculation 
events quickly proved. That he himself recognised 
this and made heroic, if unavailing, efforts to repair 

1 Cf. my history of the principate of Nero, p. 371. 

2 E.g. Suetonius Paulinus, on his retreat from London towards Chester 
in a.d. 60. Cf. my Nero, p. 213. But it must be remembered in his excuse 
that his army was then the one and only hope of every man, woman, or child 
of the Romans at that time in the island of Britain. 

• ! It was once suggested to me by an Undergraduate, in answer to an 
invitation to a class in lecture for suggestions, that Vocula only went to Vetera 
to get his thousand men, and did not care what happened to the rest. I fear 
this does not seem to me very probable. In view of the difficulties which the 
relieving column had to face, this would seem to be a case of plenty to do and 
little to get, without Sam Weller's comment. Neither would Vocula have 
strengthened the fortifications in this case. This suggestion, like Mommsen's, 
I therefore banish to a note. 


his mistake was also speedily to be shown. His 
intention was probably to keep the Germans in 
check by a fort threatening their rear if they ad- 
vanced south, while he himself was busy collecting 
all available forces with which to return to Vetera 
and, using it as his base of operations, penetrate 
the enemy's country and finish the war. Now that 
the news of the battle of Cremona had come, he may 
have looked for the speedy arrival on the Rhine ot 
reinforcements from over the Alps, and have marched 
south to meet them and move them forward. 1 

That some weeks must pass before the struggle 
in Italy was ended Vocula perhaps did not 
foresee. And certainly he did not anticipate the 
series of disasters which immediately after his 
return up the Rhine befell the Roman arms on the 
river. In holding Vetera, even though this fort 
had now been strengthened beyond the fear ot 
capture by assault, he committed an error of over- 
confidence, somewhat akin to that of which the 
Federal Government at Washington was guilty 
when, in defiance of the advice of its military 
commander, it ordered the garrison at Harper's 
Ferry to stay at its post in September 1862. In 
both cases the fort was meant to check the depreda- 
tions of a vigorous foe. In both cases the fort was 
sacrificed and the garrison lost. 2 It is possible that 
Vocula had this reason as well for seeking to retain 
Vetera in Roman hands, that he saw that the Gallic 
tribes in the neighbourhood of the Lower Rhine 

1 As suggested to me by another Undergraduate on the same occasion. 
2 See Note G, "Vetera and Harper's Ferry. " 


were becoming restless and that conspiracy was 
hatching among them. This was a new and a 
terrible danger. If the Romans evacuated the one 
great Roman fortress on the lower river, this 
evacuation might well be the spark which exploded 
the mine. 

B. The Death of Vocula. — No sooner had Vocula 
and his main army left Vetera and marched back 
to Novaesium, passing Gelduba on the way, than 
Civilis and his Germans appeared, following hard 
upon his heels. They took Gelduba, and their 
cavalry pressed forward to Novaesium, outside of 
which place they met and routed the Roman horse. 
Inside there raged mutiny and bloodshed. Flaccus, 
the governor, was dragged one night from his bed 
and murdered by a mob of soldiers. Vocula himself 
barely escaped the same fate by disguising himself 
in the garb of a slave. But the approach of Civilis 
frightened the legionaries back to their obedience. 
Then, however, there came the news of peril on the 
Upper Rhine, even at Mainz itself, which was being 
threatened by a mixed force of Germans, belonging 
to the three tribes of the Chatti, Usipi, and Mattiaci. 
Vocula was compelled to hasten to its relief, lest he 
and his army should be cut off completely from his 
communications with Italy and the hope of rein- 
forcements. The tribesmen were caught unawares 
and routed with loss. Mainz was saved for the 
time. But meanwhile the whole of the lower course 
of the Rhine was left to itself, and the rebellion 
spread unchecked. 1 

1 Tac. iv. 36, 37. 


Then indeed, at the beginning of the year a.d. 
70, the Roman cause seemed at the lowest ebb, 
and the Gauls first wavered, then renounced their 
loyalty. The victories of their German neighbours 
excited them ; the news of the burning of the 
Capitol became the text for the Druids' eloquence 
concerning the coming doom of Rome ; and rumours 
also reached them of successes gained upon the 
Danube frontier by Dacian and Sarmatian tribes. 
It was surely time for them to show their national 
patriotism, when care for their own safety seemed 
to suggest this course. The three Gallic chieftains, 
Classicus, Tutor, and Sabinus, 1 met secretly in a 
private house at Cologne, and their council was 
attended also by representatives of the tribes of 
the Ubii, Tungri, Treveri, and Lingones. The 
conspirators decided to call the Gauls to arms, and 
to block the Alpine passes against the coming of 
fresh troops from Italy. The infection of mutiny 
had gripped them at last. 

The hatching of the plot was at once betrayed 
to Vocula at Mainz. His troops were fractious 
and insubordinate. They still resented Vespasian's 
triumph, and grudged to own him as their Emperor. 
The general was sorely straitened on every side. 
Yet he never hesitated or flinched. Certainly he had 
made mistakes, but he was a true Roman — the only 
one left upon the Rhine. He marched at once 
down-stream for Cologne, and thence for Vetera. 
With so deadly a new danger threatening, the 
garrison must at all costs be relieved and the 

1 For these leaders see above, p. 247. 


fort evacuated. He had left them, as events now- 
showed, in dire peril. He would not abandon them 
without an effort to save them. Already he was well- 
nigh within sight of the camp when his auxiliary 7 
leaders, Classicus and Tutor, deserted with their 
tribesmen to the Germans. The traitors had been 
waiting their best opportunity. They allowed the 
general to surround himself with foes and to 
see the object of his determination all but won. 
Then they played him false. There is little 
that is sweet about Gallic falseness. Freedom 
is better won by sacrifice than by black treachery. 
Vocula had no choice left him but to retreat. 
He withdrew his legionaries, all that remained 
to him, back to Novaesium. He knew them 
to be desperate, and not for one moment to 
be trusted. Emissaries from the mutineers were 
almost openly busy in their ranks. There was no 
succour, no refuge for them nearer than Italy. The 
Germans were up in their front, the Gauls of the 
Moselle valley on their flank and rear ; the savages 
across the Rhine were separated but by the river, 
on which was only a German fleet. Many of his 
men preferred a Civilis to a Vespasian. They 
were cowed and angry. To such a recreant band 
of men, once Roman soldiers, their general, Vocula, 
made at Novaesium his last appeal. The purport 
of it was long remembered in after years. The 
historian, however great a master of the sham 
rhetoric of the schools, could hardly have invented 
a speech which breathes so passionate a scorn — 
the scorn of a Roman whose troops threatened to 


join Germans and Gauls against the Imperial city. 
Their old comrades of the auxilia were urging 
them to murder their officers and come over to 
them. Vocula knew the whole. Many implored 
him to escape secretly while yet there was time. 
But he despised safety if so be that he could save 
his honour and, if there should yet be shame in 
their hearts, the honour of his troops as well. He 
faced them, noisy and turbulent, with treachery and 
murder in their thoughts, boldly and alone. " As 
to his own fate," he told them, " he cared not a 
whit. But the honour of the Roman army was 
at stake. What though fortune seemed to fail 
them, though their courage seemed for the moment 
shaken ? Could they forget the examples of old 
days, those many times when Roman legions 
perished at their posts rather than yield ground 
to the foe ? Such memorials did not fail them. 
Would they march humbly in the train of Germans 
and of Gauls against the walls of Rome ? mount 
guard for a Trevir? ask a Batavian for the battle 
signal ? For eight hundred and twenty years the 
army of the Roman people had done homage to 
Jupiter, their great and glorious god, by offering 
the spoils of countless triumphs won. To Jupiter, 
and to Ouirinus, parent of their city Rome, he 
turned to pray that they might never suffer a Tutor 
and a Classicus to defile the camp of a Roman 

He ended his appeal, and a confused clamour was 
heard in the ranks. But it was not the clamour of 
repentance and applause. The men of the last 


Roman army on the Rhine had made their choice. 
Vocula had failed. So let death come to him when 
it willed. His very slaves baffled him when, like a 
Roman, he would have turned his sword against 
himself. It mattered very little. The murderer, 
a deserter, was sent by Classicus, and passed 
openly on his business through the ranks of the 
men to their general's tent. So Vocula found rest 
from soldiering at last. 

A fouler page of history was never written in 
the military annals of Rome. 1 

C. The Loss of Germany. — Vocula was dead ; 
the other legates of the traitor legions were in 
chains. The men joined the rebels, part of whom 
under Tutor fell upon Cologne and Mainz, and took 
both without trouble ; part under Classicus hurried 
to make an end at last of the heroic little garrison 
at Vetera, which Civilis still besieged in vain. Now 
all the tossing waves of mutiny surged round the 
last stronghold of the Romans on the Rhine. It 
stood alone, as a grim dark rock amid the foaming 
of the raging western sea. Still the scanty, hungry 
garrison held out desperately. There was no one 
now to shout the news of relief to come, nor any 
need for the barbarian to parade prisoners before their 
eyes. The rebel army, mutineers and Germans, 
lay passive round about the walls, waiting the end. 
Every living animal within the camp was consumed 
for food. The besieged devoured roots and shrubs, 

1 Tac. iv. 54-59. Cf. Mommsen : " In Roman military history Cannae 
and Carrhae and the Teutoburg Forest are glorious pages compared with 
the double disgrace of Novaesium." 


the very grass in the streets and on the ramparts. 
Even then the rebels dared not storm the fort, 
but won the hungry men at last to surrender by 
the solemn promise of their lives. 1 Then all who 
were left of the Four Thousand laid down their 
arms and marched out defenceless through the gate, 
trusting to the word of a savage. They marched 
five miles along the road. Then the barbarians fell 
upon them. Those who escaped fled back towards 
Vetera. They found their fort in flames, and 
perished with it. So the Four Thousand of Vetera 
died, as died the garrison of Cawnpore. 

The legionary legate Lupercus was saved from 
the massacre to be sent to the prophetess Veleda 2 
of the Bructeri. As he was being taken up the 
river Lippe his escort slew him. A few of the 
under-officers were kept as prisoners. This was 
the end. The Roman legions on the Rhine were 
traitors or destroyed. Some of the former, men of 
the First and Sixteenth, regiments, were ordered 
by the mutineers to Treves, under command of a 
certain Claudius the Holy, a man, says the historian, 
with one eye lost, repulsive of appearance, and even 
more weak in intellect. He was a worthy leader 
of such troops. But one auxiliary squadron of 
Italian horse, the ala Picentina, could brook the 

1 And Tacitus calmly writes : "Donee egregiam Iaudem fine turpi macu- 
larent," iv. 60. Whose is the cold "disgrace" if not his who cannot realise 
the sufferings and the heroism of these men ? No doubt he felt, as he 
penned the lines, that he was the truest Roman of them all— he, a stilted 
pleader at a decadent Bar. 

2 Veleda, ap. Statius, Silvae, i. 4, 90. BeXfjSa, a/>. Dio lxvii. 5. The 
MSS. readings of the Histories and Germania, c. 8, vary between Veleda and 



misery and disgrace no longer. They defiantly left 
the line of march and rode bravely back to Mainz, 
there to wait for better days. On the road they 
met by chance with Vocula's assassin and slew him. 
His name is given to us ; but why should the scroll 
of infamy be lengthened needlessly ? 

Only Claudius Labeo now was left, and he strove 
to hold out with his auxiliary corps of Baetasii, 
Nervii, and Tungri behind the line of the Maas. 
It was a vain hope. His native troops promptly 
joined the German rebels, and Labeo was happy 
to escape, a fugitive. 1 

The tide had reached its height. The Roman 
Army of the Rhine was no more. All Roman forts 
were burnt, save Mainz, and Vindonissa, a lonely 
fort far in the south, then without a garrison. 
Civilis and his Germans were triumphant. Ger- 
many was free. The " Empire of the Gauls," the 
Imperium Galliarum, had, as it seemed, dethroned 
Rome from her supremacy in northern lands. " The 
whole proud Army of the Rhine, the first army of 
the Empire, had surrendered to its own auxiliaries. 
Rome had surrendered to Gaul." 2 

§ 6. The Ebb : Reduction of the Gallic Revolt 

A. The Gathering of the Romans. — Then at last 
Rome bestirred herself. It was now the spring 
of the new year a.d. 70, and the Civil War was 
ended. The Flavian cause had triumphed. Ves- 
pasian was on his way to Italy. Mucianus, 

1 Tac. Lv. 60-66. For Labeo see above, p. 257. 2 Mommsen. 


until he came, was regent at Rome. In quick 
succession the latter despatched legions from 
Italy northwards to the scene of war. No longer 
were treacherous auxiliaries, half-hearted and 
mutinous legionaries, captains inert, unskilled, or 
betrayed, to contend with Germans and Gauls, 
flushed with victory over so contemptible a foe. 
But a veritable Roman army of eight veteran 
legions under brilliant and tried generals was now 
to strive with tribes who could gain freedom, but 
who used it in heart-breaking quarrels among them- 
selves. Men who fight for freedom are not seldom 
apt to translate it in terms of mastery over others. 
For the woes of the uncivilised at least, liberty from 
Rome was not a panacea. 

Five legions were sent from Italy to the Rhine. 
Three of these belonged to the victorious Flavian 
army. These were the Eighth Augusta, the 
Eleventh Claudia, and the Seventh Claudia. 1 Two 
others had been part of Vitellius' army, the Second 
Adjutrix 2 and the famous Twenty-first Rapax. 
But for war against the German these soldiers 
were of equal service. These five legions crossed 
,the Alps by the three passes of the Great St. 
Bernard (Pennine Alps), Little St. Bernard (Graian 
Alps), and Mont Genevre (Cottian Alps). Summons 
also were sent to Britain for the Fourteenth legion, 

1 A MS. imperfection has led some editors to substitute XIII. Gemina 
for VII. Claudia, ap. Tac. Hist. iv. 68. Both Halm and Heraeus have 
omitted the Third legion altogether. Since E. Ritterling's paper (in the 
Westdeutsche Zeitschrift fiir Geschichte und Kunst, Jahrgang xii. (1893), 
Heft 2, pp. 105 sqq., " Zur romischen Legionsgeschichte am Rhein," i., 
VII. Claudia must be read. 

2 For this legion see above, p. 214. 


the old and deadly foes of the Batavian cohorts, 1 
and to Spain for two legions, the First Adjutrix 2 
and Sixth Victrix. These speedily arrived. The 
army was divided into two, and two commanders 
were appointed. Petilius Cerialis, the cavalry leader 
of the last part of the Flavian advance to Rome, 3 
was selected to conduct the war on the Lower Rhine ; 
Annius Gallus, Otho's old general, 4 was bidden clear 
the Upper Rhine of rebels, and bring the hostile 
tribes again to subjection. The larger part of the 
army, consisting of the Legions I. Adjutrix, VII. 
VIII. and XL, was given to Gallus. Cerialis had 
at first only the Twenty-first legion under his com- 
mand. But it was not long before the remaining three 
legions, II. VI. and XIV., joined him. And, so far 

1 See above, p. 59. 

2 There is no doubt of the MS. reading " sexta ac prima ex Hispania 
accitae," iv. 68, i.e. I. Adjutrix. Halm, however, substitutes "decuma" for 
"prima," i.e. Leg. X. Gemina, following a suggestion first made, so far as I 
know, by Sir Henry Savile, in his translation of the Histories three centuries 
ago. The reason for the change seems to be that X. Gemina, undoubtedly a 
Spanish legion, is found later engaged in this war upon the Rhine (Hist. 
v. 19), while the presence of I. Adjutrix is not elsewhere mentioned. Also, 
it is urged, the order VI. and X. is more natural than VI. and I. Ritterling, 
however (op. cit. pp. 112-114), argues convincingly for the MS. reading and 
destroys the objections. That I. is not again mentioned is due to the fact 
that it belonged to the Upper army, the records of whose war are lost, thanks 
to the sudden break in the Tacitus MS. after Book v. c. 26. The legion 
has, however, left records of itself in Germany, dating to the years a.d. 73 
and following. Cf., too, Hardy, Studies in Roman History, p. 209. The 
cause of the arrival of X. Gemina, not given in Tacitus, is well explained by 
Ritterling as follows : — In the summer of the year there was a great inroad 
of Sarmatians into Moesia, which resulted in the defeat and death of the 
governor, Fonteius Agrippa (Josephus, Beit. Jud. vii. 4 fin.). Vespasian, 
therefore, sent Rubrius Gallus as governor to Moesia, and ordered Annius 
Gallus to send Leg. VII. Claudia from Upper Germany to his help. In place 
of VII. Claudia he received Leg. XIV. from Cerialis in Lower Germany, and 
X. Gemina was called up from Spain to be sent to Cerialis in place of Leg. 
XIV. In the autumn of a.d. 70, therefore, VII. Claudia is in Moesia, XIV. 
in Upper Germany, X. Gemina in Lower Germany, where it is found, ap. 
Hist. v. 19. 

3 See above, pp. 223-225. * Hist. i. 87. See above, p. 70. 


as the incomplete records of the war are concerned, 
the great brunt of the fighting fell on him. Practically 
nothing is known of Gallus' equally successful opera- 
tions in the Upper German province. 1 

The Twenty-first legion, marching by the most 
direct route of the Great St. Bernard, arrived first 
at its old headquarters Vindonissa. There it was 
joined by the auxiliaries of Noricum under Sextilius 
Felix, who marched through Raetia over the 
Arlberg Pass, and so by Feldkirch to the Lake 
of Constance and the Rhine. A special picked 
squadron of cavalry of mixed nationality, called 
the ala Singularium, also joined the army here. 
Significantly enough, it was commanded by Civilis' 
own nephew, Julius Briganticus, whose hatred of 
his uncle was cordially felt in return by him. This 
army under Cerialis was to march at once down- 
stream on Mainz and Lower Germany. Meanwhile 
the greater part of the troops, diverted over the 
other two passes to the valley of the Rhone, was to 
march up that river upon the hostile Gallic tribe of 
the Lingones. These subdued, this army under 
Gallus could either threaten the Treveri on their 
rear and thus secure Cerialis from their attack, or, 
if Cerialis, operating from the Rhine, had already 
received their submission, could march by Besancon 
for the Upper Province to complete the work in 
that district which Cerialis, pressing ever north- 
wards, had left unfinished. 2 

1 Tacitus' unfinished MS. tells us nothing of this. See below, p. 315. 

2 This is the strategy, I think, to be deduced from the very fragmentary 
hints in Tacitus' narrative. It is clear that the Lingones had to be subdued, 
and, from Frontinus, Strat. iv. 3. 14, that they were actually so subdued. 


B. The Struggle with the Treveri. — While this 
Roman army was gathering to reap the harvest of 
vengeance, all was confusion and dissension in the 
rebel ranks. The insurgents had not even to 
wait for the coming of the Romans to suffer 
their first reverse. The Lingones under Sabinus 
attacked their neighbours the Sequani and were 
rudely repulsed. This first blow to Gallic Unity, 1 
added to the rumours of the approach of the 
new Roman army, caused the feeling in Gaul 
to change. The new movement was speedily 
voiced in a great Gallic Council, which itself was 
called together by the Remi, the tribe inhabiting 
the region between the rivers Marne and Aisne, 
a folk long since notorious for its loyalty to the 
Romans. The Council voted for submission and 

When, however, this happened is uncertain, but that it befell early, and at 
Gallus' hands in co-operation with Cerialis' advance north, seems to me 
probable. For the army destined for the Lower Rhine must hasten forward 
as speedily as possible, but must not have its advance endangered on its left 
rear. If Cerialis and not Gallus subdued the Treveri in the Moselle valley, 
this was due to the facts, probably, that the Lingones gave Gallus some 
trouble, that the Treveri were cut off from the Lingones by the Mediomatrici 
higher up the valley (cf. below), and turned their whole attention, therefore, 
to the Rhine, and that, therefore, Cerialis could not afford to advance upon 
the Germans leaving his rear endangered by them. It is a great pity that 
even the Tacitean account of Gallus' operations is not preserved to us. 

At Mirebeau-sur-Beze, thirteen miles north-east of Dijon, and so in the 
Lingones' land, were recently found building tiles stamped Vexilla legionum, 
with marks of the legions I. VIII. XL XIV. XXI. Mommsen-a/. 
Hermes, xix. pp. 437-441 — regarded this as evidence of a reserve depot built 
by the detachments of these legions during their advance to the north in this 
year a.d. 70. But there are difficulties in the way of this view, e.g. the 
presence of vexilla of XIV. and XXI. — for XIV. as a whole has not yet 
arrived from Britain (cf. iv. 79), and XXI. is only heard of as being, 
apparently as a whole, at Vindonissa. Ritterling (op. cit. pp. 1 16-120), 
followed by Hardy (op. cit. p. 215), therefore refers these tegulae to the 
muster of the Upper German army for Domitian's war against the Chatti in 
A.D. 83, or against the rebel Antonius Saturninus five years later. Probably, 
therefore, they are not to be connected with the strategy of a.d. 70 or the 
reduction of the Lingones, though the idea is a tempting one. 

1 " Sequanorum prospera acie belli impetus stetit," Tac. iv. 67. 


peace. Old inter-tribal animosities determined the 
vote. Only Treveri and Lingones refused com- 
pliance, and their warriors still remained in the 
field. But, even so, no concerted action was taken 
by the three chief rebel leaders — Civilis of the 
Germans, Classicus and Tutor of the Gauls. Their 
preparations to meet the coming attack were scanty 
and inadequate. To Tutor the task of blocking the 
Alpine passes does seem to have been entrusted ; 
but he left them serenely alone, and the Romans 
had no difficulty in crossing any one of them. 
Civilis went gaily hunting after the slippery fugitive 
Labeo, who lightly baffled all his efforts to catch 
him. Classicus peacefully rested upon his uncertain 
laurels. 1 

Such efforts at defence, however, as Tutor made 
succeeded in collecting a considerable army com- 
posed not only of the Treveri with infantry and 
cavalry of the sometime Roman army, but also of 
new levies furnished by three small tribes — the 
Triboci in Lower Alsace, the Vangiones in the 
district of Worms, and the Caeracates. 2 With this 
force Tutor at first showed some activity. Sextilius 
Felix was in command of the advance guard of 
Cerialis' army, and sent forward one auxiliary cohort 
to reconnoitre on the march from Vindonissa. This 
cohort came into touch with Tutor's men and was 
destroyed. But on the advance of the Roman army 
in strength, the Gaul's force melted away rapidly. 

1 Tac. iv. 67-70. 

2 A tribe not elsewhere mentioned, but perhaps situated on the left bank 
of the Rhine behind Mainz. 


The former veterans of the Roman army returned 
promptly to their old allegiance, and the native 
soldiers of the three tribes followed them over into 
the Roman camp. Tutor was left with none but 
the Treveri to obey him. He was therefore forced 
to fall rapidly back before the Roman advance, 
and, avoiding Mainz, now garrisoned by the ala 
Picentina which wished him no good, 1 he retreated 
to the northern bank of the river Nava, where he 
hoped to be able to make a stand. This small 
stream, the modern Nahe, flows into the Rhine 
between the townships to-day of Bingen on its 
right and Bingerbrtick on its left bank. At the 
latter was the Roman town of Bingium, and the 
road from Mainz northwards crossed the Nahe by 
a bridge to the town. This bridge was destroyed 
by the Gauls who lined the farther bank to frustrate 
the Romans' passage of the stream. 2 But Felix, 
on arriving opposite the enemy's position, was not 
long baffled. A deserter showed him a ford, and 
Tutor's men were driven from their position. 
Tutor fled, and the tribesmen were scattered and 
sorely dismayed. 

By this time Cerialis himself had arrived with 
the legionary army at Mainz. Evidently distrusting 
his Gallic auxiliaries, he dismissed them to their 
homes, saying to them briefly that a war undertaken 
by Roman troops needed no help from them, but 
was as good as ended already. The Gauls retired 

1 See above, pp. 2S9-290. 

2 This, as Heraeus says, must have contained more water in Roman days 
than it does to-day. 


both thankfully and humbly — " proniores ad officia 
quod spernebantur." 1 Cerialis' action was not the 
result of disdainful self-confidence, but rather of 
great wisdom and insight into the native character. 
After the recent disasters which had befallen Roman 
troops on the Rhine, it was good policy for the 
new general to openly assure the Gauls, by word 
and deed, that even they were not indispensable. 
British officers have before now used similar methods 
with native troops, and with good results. 

At Mainz, Cerialis quickly decided that his next 
step must be the reduction of the Treveri in the 
Moselle valley. Eager as he was to penetrate to 
the heart of the mutiny in Lower Germany, he 
could not advance beyond Coblenz, where the 
Moselle enters the Rhine, unless he had secured 
himself from attack on the rear by these most 
troublesome Gauls. . Gallus was engaged to the 
south of them with their allies the Lingones. The 
Treveri could not at once be left to him. The 
time had come to make an end of their resistance. 
Already they were isolated from help. The traitor 
legionaries of the First and Sixteenth legions who 
had been sent to their capital city, now Treves, 
had felt the prick of repentance as soon as the 
Roman army had forced the passage of the Nahe. 
They solemnly administered to themselves the oath 
of loyalty to Vespasian, and, though at once the 
boy rebel-leader Valentinus hurried to the town, 
they remained defiant of him, and marched away 
up-stream to the friendly folk of the Mediomatrici, 

1 Tac. iv. 71. 


centred round the modern Metz. Here they halted 
and waited cautiously on the development of events. 
To Valentinus and to Tutor, who, after his defeat, 
had found his way also to Treves, was left only the 
melancholy pleasure of butchering in cold blood the 
two captive legates of the legions. So Freedom 
was justified of her barbarian children. 

The Treveri now prepared for resistance to the 
last, being greatly encouraged by Valentinus' youth- 
ful energy and raging. The road to their capital 
city left the Rhine north of the inflow of the Nahe, 
and crossed undulating country to the Moselle 
below Neumagen. Thence it ran to Treves, keep- 
ing on the right bank of the river. From Bingen 
to Treves the distance is some seventy miles. 
Cerialis would doubtless advance by this road. 
His intention to attack them was soon discovered 
by the tribe. Valentinus, therefore, and his army 
moved out of the capital six miles down-stream f 
where they took up and fortified a position at 
Rigodulum, the modern hamlet of Riol, on rising 
ground overlooking the Moselle. Encamped here, 
they covered the approach to their city. Here, 
therefore, Valentinus waited for Cerialis' coming. 

The other rebel leaders, Civilis and Classicus, 
on hearing of Tutor's defeat at Bingium, had 
joined forces, and now sent to Treves bidding 
Valentinus not to fight. It is possible that their 
plan was to evacuate the valley of the Moselle and 
to draw the soldiers of the Treveri north to join 
their own main army. If this was their intention, 
it failed, — partly owing to the natural reluctance of 


the tribesmen to surrender their homes to the 
enemy ; partly, perhaps, because the boy leader 
scorned the counsel of the older men ; partly by 
reason of Cerialis' rapidity of movement. This 
general having once decided upon a short campaign 
against the Treveri, wasted no time. In three days 
he marched his men sixty miles up the Moselle, 
and was upon the native army. 

There was but little spirit left in the tribesmen, 
and they made but a feeble defence of the position 
at Riol. The hill had the Moselle on its left, and 
the brook of the Fellerbach circling round its rear. 
Its crest was lined by the defenders. The position 
mav be sketched as follows : — 

To Coblenz 

'c sell e R 1 r e~ _ 

— ;^^«»™">^ ^-^ Lines of attack by 

%■* 1i ^^^Roman infantry 
^-Crqman^ caualrgjidvapji 8 .'-' 

While the Roman cavalry were sent round the 
hill by the slopes between its crest and the brook, 
the infantry were launched in a frontal attack up 
hill against the foe. They stormed it with vigour 
and success, and Valentinus' army was hurled, a 
routed mass of fugitives, down the further slope 
upon the cavalry waiting to receive them and hew 
them down. They went down the hill, says the 
Roman historian, like a house falling. 1 Valentinus 

1 " Ruinae modo. " 


himself was taken prisoner, but Tutor, if he ever 
took a part in the defence, escaped. Next day 
Cerialis entered Treves unopposed. There he was 
presently met by the repentant legionaries from 
Metz. He had sent for these to co-operate with 
him in his attack on the Treveri by advancing 
upon the tribesmen's rear. They arrived, however, 
too late to take any part in the engagement at Riol. 
They were pardoned by the general, and received 
into his army. The Treveri also, and such of the 
Lingones as were with them, 1 made their formal 
submission, which was accepted, and no further 
penalty was imposed on them. The Roman 
general prepared to stay for some days in the 
town, until reinforcements should reach him and 
enable him to essay the last and most perilous part 
of the campaign by moving against the Germans. 
Meanwhile he busied himself in receiving the 
tribes' submission, and in speech -making. All 
seemed safe on the Moselle, but in fact was far 
from being so. 2 

For while the Roman army lay resting in the 
town by the river, on the hills to the north of it 
the tribesmen were gathering in great numbers. 
Civilis and Classicus themselves had hastened 
towards the town, and Tutor joined them. Lin- 
gones and Batavians, Ubii and Tencteri and Bruc- 
teri, all were massing together under shelter of the 

1 This and iv. 77 are the only mentions of the Lingones in connection 
with the whole campaign against the Treveri. It does not seem at all 
probable that the whole tribe was engaged in the defence of their allies' 
capital. But again we cannot be certain of anything about them in the 
absence of information about Gallus' movements. 

2 Tac. iv. 70-74. 


friendly hills. A great storm was preparing to 
sweep down upon the valley which reposed at last 
so peacefully beneath. 

This news of the gathering of the tribes reached 
Cerialis in due course, and roused him from his sense 

of security. Ov yap \6yots irvpyovrat tt6\i<;. At once 

he issued orders that the legionaries should fortify 
their camp at Treves. The general, says the Roman 
historian, was blamed by many for allowing the 
natives to collect together on the hills undisturbed. 
But only the sending out of flying columns could have 
hindered this, and this method not only demanded 
more men than Cerialis had as yet at his disposal, 
but it also was far too dangerous ; for such 
columns might easily have been entrapped and cut 
to pieces among the hills by the swift tribesmen. 
No blame attaches to the Roman on this account ; 
but he can hardly escape censure for his serious 
failure to appreciate beforehand the suddenness and 
ferocity of that favourite Gallic device, a surprise. /- 
The city of Treves, Colonia Augusta Treverorum, 
was founded as a Roman town perhaps by Augustus, 
and owed its colonial status to the Emperor 
Claudius. It lay on the right bank of the Moselle. 
Its Roman remains, covered some of them with 
creepers and greenery, far surpass in beauty those of 
any other Roman town in Europe whose picturesque- 
ness has been spoilt for ever by the excavator's 
spade. These, however, date to a later time than the 
first century of our era. But still to the spectator, 
standing on the vine-clad hills to the north-west of 
the city, and looking down on its towers and rose- 


red walls in the rich plain at his feet, where one 
busy bridge spans the rapid river, it is easy to see 
again the little slumbering settlement, the Roman 
bridge, the camp of the Roman army on the left 
bank beyond the bridge, the drowsy sentinels, 
hardly aware that dawn is already breaking on 
the surrounding hills, and the wild onrush of the 
Gauls, striking their last blow in history for 
freedom from the Roman. The enemy rushed to 
the assault in triple column. The Batavians came 
swarming down from the heights which overhung 
the camp on north and west ; Ubii and Lingones 
hastened up the road which led from the camp 
northwards down the river's left bank ; Bructeri 
and Tencteri rushed through the gap left between 
road and river. A sketch may serve to illustrate 
the onslaught : — 

On the night of the attack Cerialis was sleeping, 
not, as was his duty, in the general's quarters in 
centre of the camp, but in the town. The sentries, 


probably on that account, were the more careless. 
The enemy were upon them and over the ramparts 
before any alarm was given. Then, as at the 
surprise of Gelduba, followed a scene of wild con- 
fusion, slaughter, and plunder. The legionaries 
fought desperately enough in little knots of men, 
and their officers sought to cheer them on to a 
stout resistance. But their exultant and agile foes 
rushed through the camp and seized the bridge, 
driving over it a mob of terrified fugitives. At the 
town end of the bridge their general met them. 
Hastily roused from sleep, Cerialis had hastened to 
the noise of the fighting, and now played verily the 
man. To rally some of the fleeing, and with them 
make a fierce attack on the bridge, was the work 
of a moment. The bridge was retaken, and the 
general, at the head of such troops as he could 
muster, crossed it to the camp. His coming saved 
the day, by that time well-nigh lost. His entreaties 
and rebukes, his energy, as he hastened from post 
to post reckless of his life, restored discipline and 
courage to the legionaries. The steadiness of the 
Twenty-first legion shamed the wavering men of 
the two unlucky traitor legions, but newly restored 
to the rank of Roman soldiers. The Germans and 
Gauls, thinking that the victory was won, were 
already scattered far and wide through the camp, 
gleefully gathering up the spoil. But their chief 
spoil that day was the saving of their lives — by 
the few who at the last escaped back over the ram- 
parts to the hills, leaving the camp strewn thick 
with the bodies of their slain. Treves and the 


Roman army were saved. That same day the 
enemy's camp on the heights was stormed, and the 
foe melted away to the north. Civilis, Tutor, and 
Classicus saved themselves by flight. A handful 
of the leading men of the Treveri 1 still followed 
their leaders' fortunes. But the resistance of this 
tribe was now finally at an end. 2 

C. The Advance to Cologne. — But Cerialis could 
not tarry longer at Treves. He and his army were 
needed urgently at Cologne, and it was now safe 
for him to continue his advance down the Rhine 
towards that city. Its inhabitants, the " Agrippi- 
nenses," easily the most cultured and Romanised of 
all the Germans on the river, had remained loyal to 
the Roman cause so long as they dared, and their 
city had hardly escaped destruction at the hands 
of the angry Germans across the Rhine in their 
hour of victory. A timely recognition by the 
Agrippinenses of facts and the humble answer which 
turns away wrath had saved their city. But now 
again the tide of German triumphs had turned and 
was sweeping fast out to sea. The citizens were 
eager to return to their old faith, and to propitiate 
the wrathful Romans by a sweet-smelling sacrifice. 
Twenty miles away to the south-west of Cologne, 
at Tolbiacum, the modern ZiAlpich, 3 Civilis had 
placed in garrison one of his most warlike and 
valued cohorts, of Chauci and Frisii combined. 
Now, fresh from the scene of his bitter defeat at 

1 Tacitus is careful to give a most precise number, viz. 1 13 ! (v. 19). 

2 Tac. iv. 75-78. 

3 Famous later for the defeat here in a.d. 496 of the Alemanni by the 
Franks, and Clovis' consequent conversion to Christianity. 


Treves, the German leader, sore and angry, was 
hurrying towards Cologne, where his own wife and 
sister, together with Classicus' daughter, had been 
left as pledges of the alliance. The anxious citizens 
resolved to carry out at once their desperate resolu- 
tion. The unsuspecting Germans, scattered through 
the houses in the city, were massacred. The 
famous cohort at Ziilpich was invited to a banquet 
and there largely entertained, while wine flowed 
freely. As the guests lay buried in drunken 
slumber, their hosts stole from the hall of feasting, 
made fast the doors, and burnt the whole with 
fire to the ground. Then the Agrippinenses sent 
begging Cerialis to march instantly to their 
succour, and save them from the vengeance of 

By forced marches the Roman general out- 
stripped the Germans and reached the town in 
time. Civilis, at the bitter news, turned aside, and 
retreated northwards, sorrowing for his lost cohort. 
But though Gaul was also lost to him, though his 
women-folk were prisoners in the Romans' hands, 
the courage of the rebel general never failed him. 
The Gauls must be let make their peace with the 
foe. The Treveri and Lingones had at last been 
quelled. The Nervii and their German neighbours, 
the Tungri, followed the example ; for the Four- 
teenth legion, landing at Boulogne from Britain, 
marched through the territory of these tribes on its 
way to the Rhine, and scared them into submission. 
Yet for all this Civilis was not moved. Still he had 
his Germans, Batavians, and Cannenefates left to 



him. With these he had begun the revolt. With 
these he had driven the Romans from the Rhine. 
With these he would yet maintain his cause. A 
couple of small reverses soon " spoilt the fame of 
the victory " at Treves, and showed to Cerialis that 
the Germans were yet to be subdued. A small 
Roman flotilla, known as the Classis Britannica, 
which kept guard in the North Sea and Channel, 
was attacked on the German coast by the Can- 
nenefates and dispersed. 1 And one of Cerialis' 
advance squadrons of cavalry was cut to pieces by 
Civilis at Novaesium. The Gallic bid for Empire 
had failed ; but the German army mustered north 
of Vetera still dauntless. There were mutineers 
yet in arms, and Cerialis' hardest task lay before 
him. 2 

§ 7. The Submission of the Germans 3, 

Cerialis found no difficulty in advancing from 
Cologne down the Rhine until he came again to the 
neighbourhood of Vetera, where Civilis had col- 
lected together his largest possible army, intending 
to make a resolute stand at this place. Both the 
Roman and the German general had received re- 
inforcements since they had met in their first 
encounter at Treves. Cerialis' strength had 
been more than doubled by the arrival of three 
new legions — the Fourteenth from Britain, and the 

1 Probably it had, as Mommsen suggests, just conveyed the Fourteenth 
legion from Britain to Gaul. 

2 Tac. iv. 79. Tacitus' narrative is now continued first in v. 14. 

3 Tac. v. 14-26. 


Second Adjutrix with the Sixth Victrix from Spain. 
Numerous auxiliary troops, both horse and foot, 
were now added to the legionaries. Civilis had 
persuaded men of the Cugerni and Transrhenane 
tribes to join his banner. Germany was in the field 
against Rome. 

It was by this time autumn. The great river, 
which in the preceding year had caused such trouble 
to Vocula and the other Roman commanders by 
its scanty stream and shallows, 1 at this time 
rolled a full flood to the sea, and the low ground 
round Vetera was a great morass of mud and 
swamp. In such ground for battle the lightly-armed 
Germans delighted. Used to swimming from their 
childhood up, strong-limbed and tall in stature, the 
natives of the Lower Rhine had no fear of sudden 
plunges into treacherous pools, of quaking ground, 
or hurrying stream. But the short, sturdy legionary 
of Rome, encumbered with heavy armour, and easily 
lured in his ignorance on to treacherous ground, 
fought but badly, because with little confidence, on 
any but firm soil. Certainly the German river was 
striving to help its children. 

The spot first selected by Civilis in the neigh- 
bourhood of Vetera on which to offer battle was 
carefully chosen and prepared. Swampy by nature, 
a dam cleverly thrown into the Rhine from the 
bank had impeded the flow of the stream, 
and added thereby to the depth of water on 
the ground. The river was on one side of it — a 
refuge for swimmers if they were driven off the 

1 See above, p. 269. 


field. And the memory of triumphs already won 
at Vetera spurred the Germans on to emulate their 
former deeds. The conflict, skilfully provoked by 
the German and rashly accepted by the Roman, 
ended in a bad reverse for the latter. The swamp 
was like that road of historic fame in Virginia on 
which the Federal officer, sent to reconnoitre it, 
reported that the road was there, but " he guessed 
the bottom had fallen out." Water and mud suc- 
cessfully worsted Cerialis' struggling men, and for 
the moment ill-fortune seemed again to haunt the 
Romans on the Rhine. But the check was only 
for a day. Next morning Cerialis renewed the 
battle ; and, after a stubborn contest, a deserter 
showed the cavalry a path by which they could 
skirt the morass on firm ground and fall upon the 
Germans' flank. This decided the battle, and the 
enemy fled. But the Roman fleet, which Cerialis 
had expected to appear to cut off the German flight 
across the Rhine, did not come. The cavalry 
pursuit was checked by heavy rain and nightfall. 
And the Germans, therefore, made good their 
retreat without serious loss. 1 

Civilis by this defeat was compelled to cross the 
Waal into his last refuge, the " Island of the 
Batavians." 2 He therefore evacuated the Oppidum 
Batavorum (which was built probably on the site 
of Lohengrin's town, Cleve, some seven miles 

1 This part of Tacitus' narrative is made both dull and unreal by a 
number of invented speeches. Their pretty rhetorical tropes do but hinder 
the military narrative, and I omit them all. 

2 For the whole of the following narrative, the plan of the " Island " on 
p. 233 must be consulted. 


south-east of the parting of the channels), carried off 
all that he could from it, and burnt it to the ground. 
To add to the security of his position in the island, 
he destroyed Drusus' mole, and thus diverted the 
greater bulk of the waters of the Rhine from its 
northern arm, the Lek, into its southern, the Waal. 1 
The Romans, he judged, had not enough vessels 
to bridge the greatly swollen waters of the latter 
channel, and his own communications over the 
shallow northern branch with his friends beyond 
were made both safe and easy. Once in the Island, 
though driven back like a hunted beast to its lair, 
he turned savagely and stood at bay. Now, too, 
the Chauci sent him men besides to help him in the 
defence of his " Island " home. 

Cerialis and his army ~ pushing northwards found 
themselves stopped by the Waal. There was no 
help for it. The river must be bridged before they 
could get to grips with the foe. And the year was 
growing old ; the river, swollen by autumnal rains, 
was rising ever higher. There seemed little pro- 
mise of a speedy finish. Cerialis distributed his 
army along the southern bank of the river ; sent 
emphatic messages bidding- the tardy fleet come at 
once to his help ; and ordered the winter quarters 
for the troops to be rebuilt at Novaesium and 
Bonn. 3 His main army was divided between four 
camps on the Waal. The two eastern camps were 

1 See above, pp. 236-237. 

2 Leg. X. Gemina from Spain now takes the place of Leg. XIV. sent to 
Upper Germany. See note on p. 292. 

:! Destroyed, after their victory over Vocula, by the Germans in the pre- 
vious year. 


allotted to the legionaries. These were Arenacum, 
given to the Tenth legion, which perhaps was 
situated at Ryndern by Cleve ; and Batavodurum, 
the camp of the Second legion, almost certainly 
at Nymwegen. Here, too, the soldiers began to 
attempt the building of a bridge. 1 The auxiliaries' 
camps were at Grinnes and Vada, but these places 
cannot now be identified. 

The river, however embarrassing it might be to 
the Romans, was small obstacle to the movements 
of Batavians. The fourfold distribution of the 
Roman army seemed to give to Civilis a notable 
opportunity of a simultaneous attack upon all four 
camps. The Germans sallied out over the Waal, 
and fell at one and the same time upon them all, 
but not with equal vigour. The legionaries had 
little trouble in driving off the assailants. But 
Grinnes and Vada were attacked with great deter- 
mination, and it was not until the Roman com- 
mander-in-chief himself came to his hard-pressed 
auxiliaries' help at the head of a picked troop of 
horse that the Germans were forced here also to 
fall back again over the river. By evening the 
enemy had all again crossed the Waal, swimming 
or by boats, and the attempted surprise had this 
time failed. 

1 It is abundantly clear at least that all four camps were south of the 
Waal. The proposed identifications, therefore, of Arenacum with Arnhem, 
and Batavodurum with Wyk-by-Durstede are quite impossible, as both 
Arnhem and Wyk are on the Lek. At Nymwegen there are to-day a 
railway bridge and also a swing-bridge. I have not found on the map 
another bridge over the Waal between it and Bommel, thirty odd miles to 
the west. If, however, Noviomagus is identified, as is usually the case, 
with Nymwegen, Batavodurum must be sought elsewhere. 


But the Romans could do very little without 
their fleet. Cerialis, therefore, left the army, and 
journeyed up-stream to look for it and to super- 
intend the building of the camps at Novaesium and 
Bonn. The Roman historian gives a number of 
reasons to explain the fleet's delay. The sailors 
were afraid ; they were employed elsewhere ; they 
had not been given time enough in which to arrive. 
One of these three explanations would have been 
enough. The effect of the three combined is 
somewhat ludicrous. But Cerialis did manage to 
discover his navy, and brought it back with him 
rejoicing. His was a short-lived joy. It happened 
on a night black with clouds that Cerialis and his 
escort were encamped beside the river on the 
return journey. The ships, the object of his toils, 
lay moored in the stream beside the camp. The 
sentries gazed sleepily out into the night. The 
general was not on the admiral's galley, where 
his ensign flew, but dallying, so scandal said, on 
shore with a native woman. A band of Germans 
silently crossed the river a short way above the 
camp, and stole down beneath the ramparts. The 
sentries noticed nothing, and the foe clambered 
quietly over the defences. In a moment the sleep- 
ing troops found their tents falling upon their heads. 
The Germans had cut the ropes. Then hideous 
and ferocious cries rent the stillness of the night, 
as the natives fell with joy to slaughtering the 
Romans, recumbent and struggling beneath the 
fallen canvas, or emerging bewildered and half- 
naked into the open. Others of the foe, coming in 


boats down-stream, hurled grappling-hooks aboard 
the ships and towed them away. 

Their chief triumph was the capture of the 
general's ship and ensign. The squall had been a 
sharp one, and had broken with fury over the hap- 
less Romans. Then it passed away. The Germans 
vanished. The Romans were left to straighten 
their disordered camp and peg their tents again. 
But when morning broke, the angry and mortified 
legionaries, gazing disconsolately out over the river, 
saw their own ships, crowded with the laughing foe, 
moving over to the opposite bank. Only the flag- 
ship was not there : it was being towed up the 
Lippe river, 1 yet another offering to Veleda, the 
maiden prophetess. But to the Germans' grief, 
they had found no Cerialis asleep on board the 

Autumn was passing into winter, and no progress 
had of late been made. The Waal still rolled 
between. Civilis, exulting in his new-won ships, 
thought the time come for a naval display. In the 
broad channel of the Maas, hard by the modern 
Rotterdam, 2 he gathered together all his motley 
crowd of vessels, gay with every kind of bunting 
and parti-coloured sails. A favouring breeze sent 
them merrily up-stream, until they hove in view of 
Cerialis and his astonished men. The Roman was 
not to be outdone. He had collected other craft, 

1 The Lippe flows into the Rhine at Wesel, a few miles above Xanten. 

2 The review is held in a "spatium velut aequoris electum, quo Mosae 
fluminis os amnem Rhenum Oceano adfundit." The broadest part of the 
Maas would be that where the De Noord channel enters the Lek above 
Rotterdam. From this point to the sea the Lek takes the name of the Maas. 


and still had the remnants of his former fleet which 
had escaped the grappling-hooks. His pilots, too, 
were now experienced men. The Roman fleet 
therefore put out from the shore, and drifted 
slowly, with sails furled, down the stream to meet 
the advancing foe. Each gallant fleet passed the 
other, moving in column of line ahead. As they 
sailed by a few missiles flew between. And there 
ended the last great naval engagement of the 

Heavy rain had fallen, and the campaigning 
season in those inclement barbarian northern wilds 
was fast drawing to a close. Even Civilis must 
have found his position in the Island uncomfortably 
damp. For he quietly evacuated it, and drew all 
his men with him over the Rhine } to the northern 
bank. Then at last Cerialis and his men struggled 
over the Waal without resistance, and the Island, 
so long the object of their patient striving, lay at 
their mercy. Plunder was pleasant, but of a truth 
the land was very damp. The entire Roman camp 
bid fair to be washed for good and all away. And 
now once more their errant fleet had lost itself. 
Behind them the swollen waters of the Waal rolled 
heavily seawards. Their position was uncomfort- 

So uncomfortable in fact was it that, in Tacitus' 
opinion, a third onslaught by the Germans must 
now have put an end once and for all time to 
Cerialis and his men, in which case the Yorkshire 
wolds might have preserved their independence of 

1 I.e. the Lek. 


Rome a few years longer. 1 But now, for his part, 
Civilis had had enough of war. For some eighteen 
months he had led an enjoyably exciting life, pur- 
suing and pursued, defeated and victorious, triumph- 
ant and fugitive, faring now up, now down, the 
valleys of the Moselle and the Rhine. He had won 
fame, and, at least for a brief time, liberty from 
Rome for himself and his tribe. But by this time 
his own people showed signs of restiveness. The 
Germans, too, across the Rhine were grumbling, 
not liking the thought of having to support the 
rebel army through the winter months. Messages 
reached him from Cerialis offering life on submis- 
sion, but full of threats if he refused compliance. 
Even among Batavians there were traitors. Civilis 
judged it more profitable to surrender than to be 
surrendered to the Romans. His faithful Batavians 
were quite capable of making a scapegoat of their 
general. Civilis therefore sent word to Cerialis, 
and a meeting was arranged between the two com- 
manders, to take place on the river Nabalia.' 2 A 
bridge over the river was broken in the middle, 
and at the two ends of the pieces left in place the 
two opponents stood to exchange speeches and 
arrange terms over the gap. But what thereafter 
took place remains unknown to us. For Civilis 
has hardly made a fair beginning of what was 

1 Cerialis was Governor of Britain under Vespasian's principate from 
A.i). 71-73. For his successful expeditions against the Brigantes cL Tacitus, 
Agrnola, 17. 

2 This river is nowhere else mentioned, and Tacitus, of course, gives no 
clue which leads to any certain identification. It may have been the Lek, 
or the Kromme Rhyn, or the New (or Guelders) Yssel. The last is the 
favourite choice. See the plan on p. 233. 


doubtless to be, at least in Tacitus, a long excul- 
patory harangue, than the text of the historian is, 
like the bridge, abruptly broken off. And, with 
this, Julius Civilis, the Batavian prince and rebel, 
vanishes for ever from our ken. History speaks ot 
him no more. 

But the war in Lower Germany was certainly at 
an end. Of that in Upper Germany, with which 
Annius Gallus was entrusted, no record remains. 
Gallus had four legions under his command, and 
besides the reduction of the Lingones, of which a 
Roman military writer makes one passing mention, 1 
the German tribes in the lower Main valley, who 
had raided up to the walls of Mainz, merited 
chastisement. If they did receive this it had 
no very lasting effect, for the Emperor Domitian 
thirteen years later found it necessary to conduct 
a serious campaign against the most redoubtable 
of these very offenders, the Chatti. But of any 
military operations on the Upper Rhine in a.d. 70, 
after the coming of Gallus, there exists no story. 

Rome treated the rebels, both Gauls and 
Germans, with politic mercy. Only submission 
was demanded of them, and a return to their old 
condition of subjection. The Batavians and 
Cannenefates still paid no tribute. No Roman 
tax-gatherer was to plague their soil. They must 
continue to furnish troops to the Roman army as 
had been their duty before the mutiny. And so 
the German " honour " suffered no infringement. 2 

1 Frontinus, Strat. iv. 3. 14. 
2 " Manet honos et antiquae societatis insigne,"' Tacitus, German in, 29. 


Rome had no desire for vengeance on the common 
folk, in spite of the losses which she had suffered at 
their hands. Veleda, the fierce prophetess maiden, 
was indeed captured later and brought a prisoner 
to Rome. But it is unlikely that she endured any 
worse fate than to become a subject for mediocre 
poets' verse. 1 

But Rome's attitude to some at least of the 
tribal chieftains was sterner : for it was always 
the ambition of such men, both in Gaul and 
Germany, which was dangerous to the peace of 
those lands and to her own supremacy. Cerealis 
explained very clearly to the Treveri the reason of 
Rome's presence on the Rhine. " We have not 
planted ourselves upon the Rhine," the Roman 
historian makes him declare, "to guard Italy, but 
for fear lest some second Ariovistus should make 
himself lord of the kingdom of the Gallic lands. 
Men talk of liberty, and use other such specious 
words. There was never a man, if he sought for 
power and dominion for himself at cost of others' 
slavery, who did not use such language. Should 
we Romans ever be expelled, which may Heaven 
avert ! what remains for all the world save a never- 
ending war of nation against nation?" 2 It was 
true, every word of it. The right of Rome to 
control Gaul and " Germany " was to this extent 
precisely the same as our right to govern India 
and its many peoples. The Pax Romana had to 
be preserved upon the Rhine lest bloody war 
should in due course, after long years of savage 

' Statius, Silvae, i. 4. 90. See Note H, p. 352. - Tac. iv. 73, 74. 


horror, beget one chief as Tyrant. This reason had 
made Julius Caesar in old days march his trembling 
army against King Ariovistus the German. 
Chieftain after chieftain in Gaul in the Caesarian 
period between 59 b.c. and 50 B.C. had dreamt 
this dream of lordship for himself. Vercingetorix 
had all but made of the dream a waking vision. 
Peril of disturbance from such ambition in Gaul or 
Germany had haunted Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, 
Nero. In their last sore straits Civilis and 
Classicus had even sent proffering Cerialis the 
" Imperium Galliarum " ; 1 so strong and deep- 
rooted has been the notion of kingship on the 

Therefore, her honour at last splendidly vindi- 
cated, and the mutiny finally quelled, Rome showed 
mercy to the peoples ; but some at least of the 
leaders of the revolt felt the power of her wrath. 
Civilis almost certainly bargained for his life. 
Classicus and Tutor are never heard of more. It 
is idle to speculate upon their fate. But the boy 
leader Valentinus, who had revived a dying cause, 
was sent to Vespasian, and by him executed. - 
And most significant of all was the fate of Julius 
Sabinus of the Lingones. After his defeat by the 
Sequani 3 he disappeared entirely from the Roman 
sight. The house to which he had fled was shortly 
afterwards burnt to the ground, and men commonly 
thought that he had sought death for himself in 

1 Unless, indeed, this offer was but a ruse to lull Cerialis into security at 
Treves while the foe were gathering in the hills for their night attack on the 
camp. Cerialis, of course, sent no answer to the offer (Tac. iv. 75). 

- Tac. iv. 85. 3 See above, p. 294. 


the flames. But for nine long years, so runs the 
romantic tale which impressed the imagination of 
Greek and Roman writers, Sabinus lay hid with his 
faithful wife Epponina in a secret cave. There she 
gave birth to two boys, and the little lads grew up 
with father and mother in their dark and gloomy 
cavern. For nine years they were hidden. After 
nine years they appealed to Vespasian for pardon. 
After nine years the Emperor ordered their execu- 
tion in cold blood, though he spared the boys. So 
should we English have treated the villain Nana, 
could we but have caught him. Sabinus' deeds 
were no atrocities of a Nana, nor even of a Civilis. 
But he had dared to call himself Caesar, and for 
him there remained no mercy. 1 

§ 8. The Lessons of the Mutiny 

Gauls, Germans, and Romans, all had learnt 
lessons taught them by the great mutiny. 

A. The Results in Gaul and Germany. — The 
cause of the rebellion had been the natural aspira- 
tion for freedom felt by all men worthy of the 
name. This aspiration had been fed, in case of 
the Gauls, by a century of striving for liberty, by 
memories both new and old of risings and struggles 
on its behalf; in case of the Germans subject to 
Rome, by more recent recollections of independ- 
ence, by the lively example of their kinsmen over 

1 Tac. iv. 67 ; Dio, lxvi. 16 ; Plutarch, Amat. 25. Tacitus promises to 
give the whole story when he comes to the year in question (i.e. A.D. 79) : 
but this part of his work, if it was ever written, is of course lost to us. 
Plutarch says that he was personally acquainted with one of the boys. 


the Rhine who, once like themselves in servitude 
to the Roman, had boldly struck for freedom, won 
it, and retained it ; and by the harsh, careless, and 
unjust treatment which they had endured at the 
hands of the military agents of the Roman Govern- 
ment. Moreover, there was not a race or people, 
save the effeminate and worthless subjects of the 
old Syrian monarchy, who, conquered by Rome, 
had not at least once risen against their masters in 
desperate rebellion before they had learnt to receive 
and to enjoy the yet prouder and more ennobling 
position of citizens of the Roman Empire. To 
the Batavians their broad streams flowing to 
the boundless unknown ocean, and their pathless 
wastes, by themselves spoke of wide unfettered 
liberty. They were not men tamely to bow their 
necks beneath the yoke of alien domination, if so be 
that they could break it and cast it off. 

And never had so fair an opportunity been 
given to both Gauls and Germans to strike a blow 
for freedom as during these terrible months of Civil 
War following on the death of Galba, when the 
Empire, which subdued them and, as they said, 
oppressed them, seemed rent utterly in pieces by 
the fury of contending selfish factions. The mal- 
contents indeed had not been men had they let 
their chance pass unheeded. 

But the great effort miserably failed. And no 
like opportunity occurred again. Moreover, the 
course of mutiny had shown the tribes their weak- 
ness, while Rome at the end was wisely merciful, 
and trampled neither on their lives nor on their 


honour. The Imperial State remembered her 
duty to her subjects, lessons learnt by her long 
since in Italy and Spain and Macedonia, and now 
taught to her again on the Rhine. The meanest 
Roman henceforth who did outrage, were it but to 
a child of the conquered peoples, was a greater and 
more despicable traitor to his country than he who 
risked his life in mutiny against her. 

The war had proved that neither Gauls nor 
Germans could for long combine in a national 
war against the Roman. It was easy to preach 
eloquently on nationalism ; it was impossible for 
the nationalists to overcome for any length of time 
the local jealousies which proved the ruin of the 
movement to the end. Civilis, who openly dis- 
claimed with patriotic indignation any desire on 
part of Batavians or Treveri to rule any other 
tribe, is found contemplating a war for this object 
with calm confidence in the prospect of a German 
victory. 1 Civilis' own nephew fought fiercely to 
the death against him. 2 Tencteri hated Ubii ; 
Ubii massacred Chauci and Frisii ; Sequani fought 
Lingones. 3 The Gallic tribes rose in the " hope of 
liberty." But the desire for rule over their neigh- 
bours was a more powerful, if more secret, motive 
with them. There was to be " One Gallic Em- 
pire." This, doubtless, was excellent. But whose 
district should be chosen as the seat for that 
Empire? 4 Indeed this was an apple of discord 
cast in upon the banquet of the victors by Mischief 

1 Cf. Tac. iv. 61 with iv. 66. 2 Julius Briganticus, iv. 70; v. 21. 

3 Tac. iv. 64, 67, 79. 4 Tac. iv. 25, 69. 


smiling. And most Gauls thought that Rome's 
impartial if alien rule was better after all. And 
therefore the mutiny of the years a.d. 69 and 70 
was the last rising on behalf of independence which 
affected Gaul or the German tribes on the Roman 
side of the Lower Rhine. The page on which is 
written the record of Gallic rebellion against the 
Roman conqueror contains the history of a hundred 
and twenty years. But now at last the leaf was 
turned, and no story of Gallic self-sacrifice or 
treason on behalf of liberty embellishes or sullies 
the chapter any more. " This was the last blood 
shed for the cause of ancient Gaul, the last act of 
devotion to a social order, a government, a religion, 
the return of which was neither possible nor 
desirable." ' 

Whether a mutiny in the "native army" is 
caused by " outward and accidental causes " or by 
the " inner necessity of things" is a question likely 
to be always debated. Some would still maintain 
that there existed no such inner necessity for the 
sepoy mutiny in India, and would perhaps still 
point confidently to the " apparently complete 
quiet " which has prevailed in the Indian army 
since the Mutiny as proof of their contention. 
In like manner the German historian ascribes 
the Batavian mutiny to " outward and accidental 
causes," and cites the peace prevailing after it upon 
the Rhine as the evidence for his contention. Yet 
surely it was no mock plea for liberty which called 

1 Thierry, translated and quoted by Merivale, History of the Romans 
under the Empire, vi. p. 527. 



so many German tribes and peoples round Civilis' 
standard, and made them faithful to their leader 
well-nigh to the very last. We honour the bar- 
barian and the mutineer too greatly if we ascribe 
to him the pure feeling of passionate devotion to 
an ideal such as sent thousands of Italy's sons 
joyfully to the dungeon, to the gibbet, and to death 
on the field, sixty years ago. Liberty to the 
ancient German may have spelt little save revelling 
in lust, in plunder, and in butchery. Therefore 
civilised man applauds the victory of Rome, of 
peace, order, government, and law. The barbarians' 
temper was wild and passionate ; their deeds were 
treacherous and foul ; their cruelty was savage. 
Yet the seed which, when planted in so rude a soil, 
sprang up a rank and poisonous growth, in kinder 
and more congenial climes has borne the noblest 
fruit which ever glorifies Man and marks him apart 
from the brute. Not liberty, but the use men 
make of it, is its sole justification. But the fierce 
Batavian mutineer, the veriest German savage, 
who dreamt perhaps vague dreams of freedom, 
deserved indeed no victory, yet his merited failure 
was not utterly barren of honour. In the history 
of races as well as of individuals the child is father 
of the man. 

But the German children had learnt their lesson. 
They were quick at least to see that petulance 
brought punishment, and their manhood was not 
yet. Though we may venture to think their rising 
due to other causes besides those of the recruiting 
officer and the happiest of opportunities, yet for its 


issue it is enough to cite the same historian's 
words : " The Roman Germans were merged in the 
Empire no less completely than the Roman Gauls ; 
of attempts at insurrection on the part of the former 
there is no further mention. At the close of the 
third century the Franks, invading Gaul by way of 
the Lower Rhine, included in their seizure the 
Batavian territory. Yet the Batavians maintained 
themselves in their old, though diminished, settle- 
ments, as did likewise the Frisians, even during 
the confusions of the great migrations of peoples, 
and so far as we know, preserved allegiance even 
to the decaying Empire as a whole." : 

B. The Results hi the Ro?nan Army. — The 
Roman Government showed that it too had learnt 
lessons from the mutiny in its treatment of both 
the legions and the auxiliary forces on the Rhine. 

(1) The Legions. — The outbreak of the mutiny 
had revealed serious defects in the prevailing system 
of "clan-regiments," taken from the native tribes 
to serve as auxiliaries in the Roman army, when at 
least these were stationed in the country of their 
birth. The rapidity of the spread of the movement, 
the feeble resistance to it offered by, and even 
the mutinous tendencies shown in, the regular 
legionary regiments along the whole course of the 
river, made manifest that some defect of organisa- 
tion existed also in this, the more important, branch 
of the Roman Imperial military system. 

It seemed evident that the legions on the Rhine 
in a.d. 69 were tainted with native German sym- 

1 Mommsen. 


pathies. This pointed to the fact that the recruit- 
ing system was to blame. The Emperor Augustus 
had sought to establish the general practice that 
recruits for legions serving in the western part of 
the Empire should be drawn from the eastern 
provinces, and that legions on duty in the latter 
should be recruited from the west. The principle 
was the same as that in the modern Kingdom 
of Italy, where Lombard and Tuscan regiments 
tend to be quartered in the south, Sicilian and 
Calabrese in the north of the peninsula. By 
such means the army itself becomes a means of 
promoting unity and unification. Moreover, in 
the event of a disturbance, the troops on the spot 
are more likely to be utterly true to their military 
discipline because they do not share in, or perhaps 
even realise, local feelings and aspirations. But 
to combine this sound principle of recruiting with 
the equally wise system of permanent military 
camps upon the frontiers of the Empire was 
proving a very hard task for the Government. 
These camps, again devised by the extraordinary 
foresight of Augustus, were invaluable to the peace 
of the Empire, the popularity of the army, the 
prosperity of the provinces, and the Romanisation 
of the outlying districts of the Empire and the 
tribes beyond its limits. But as time went on, 
and the children of the legions grew to manhood, 
the regiment, stationed for years together at the 
same frontier camp, could not but gather its 
recruits from the sons of its soldiers, many of whom 
married the women of the district, and from the 


native auxiliaries serving side by side with them. 
The result was that Augustus' principle of recruiting 
was not to be reconciled with, and had to yield to, 
his system of permanent cantonments. And hence 
a legion and a locality became identified so closely 
that the interests and hopes of the latter became 
those of the former. To the Roman Empire the 
introduction of the territorial system into the army 
had grave disadvantages. 

The six legions engaged at first in the German 
rising of a.d. 69 were the First, Fourth, Sixteenth, 
and Twenty-second, whose men proved mutinous 
and treacherous, the Fifth Alaudae and Fifteenth 
Primigenia, some of whose men at least fought 
most gallantly and died for Rome. Of these six 
legions it appears that the First had been in Lower 
Germany, the Sixteenth in Upper Germany, since 
the days of Augustus ; the Fourth and Twenty- 
second since a.d. 43. Thus the leaven of local 
sympathy had had time to work with these men. 
It is true that the Fifth legion Alaudae had also 
been in Lower Germany since Augustus' time, 
save for a passing excursion to Britain under 
Claudius. But this regiment had great traditions 
of bitter fighting with the Germans, in former days 
under Lollius, and recently under Corbulo. The 
small heroic vexillum left behind at Vetera when 
the bulk of the legion marched for the Vitellian 
cause to Italy was, therefore, proud to preserve its 
regimental tradition. Its comrades of the Fifteenth 
legion were probably swayed by the example of 
the men of the Fifth who were in garrison with 


them. It is possible, too, that the Fifteenth legion 
was but newly raised, and had been but a few years 
in Germany, so that its loyalty in this case would 
be a striking illustration (from opposites) of the 
thesis advanced above that the mutinous tendencies 
might be produced by a long stay in Germany. If, 
however, this legion also had been in the country 
since a.d. 43, as some suppose, the loyalty of their 
comrades must be held responsible for the bravery 
of its own soldiers. 1 

When the revolt was ended, and the new 
Emperor, Vespasian, dealt with the question of 
the garrison of the Rhine, he made sweeping 
changes in its composition. So shrewd a soldier 
as was this sagacious Prince might approve the 
pardon granted by his general to the mutineers 
who repented, but their regiments had stained their 
reputation beyond forgiveness. Vespasian promptly 
struck three of the " traitor legions " from the roll 
of the army. The First, the Fourth Macedonica, 
and Sixteenth Gallica ceased henceforth to exist. 
The place of the last two in the army list was 
taken by two new legions, the Fourth Flavia 
firma, and the Sixteenth Flavia felix. In the year 
a.d. 82 a third new legion was also added, the 

1 Legio XV. Primigenia seems to make its first appearance in Tacitus, 
Histories, i. 55, a.d. 69. Pfitzner thinks it was created in a.d. 62 ; 
Grotefend, that both XV. Primigenia and XXII. Primigenia were created 
as separate from the two legions, XV. Apollinaris and XXII. Ueiotariana, 
on the occasion of the invasion of Britain in a.d. 43. The name Primigenia 
implies "first existing"; i.e. when a legion was duplicated, the part which 
retained the old eagle was Primigenia ; the other legion of the same number 
received a new eagle and retained the old distinctive title. But there are 
other explanations of the title, for which see Pfitzner, Geschichte der rom. 
Kaiser-legionen, p. 8. 


First Flavia Minervia pia fidelis, and was encamped 
at Bonn, where it still lay as late as the year 
a.d. 295. 1 Only the Twenty-second legion of the 
four disgraced regiments was spared, and kept still in 
the country in camp at Vetera from a.d. 71 to a.d. 90. 2 
Vespasian's reasons for such a difference of treat- 
ment between this regiment and its three partners 
in dishonour are not preserved to us. 

Some uncertainty attaches to the fate of the 
two loyal legions, the Fifth and the Fifteenth. It 
is quite possible that these were also both dis- 
banded. 3 If so, Vespasian had evidently deter- 
mined to make an almost entirely clean sweep of 
the regiments of the former garrison of the Rhine. 
It is, however, a greater pleasure to suppose that 
the proud and valiant Fifth did continue to exist, 
and sealed its long services to the Empire on the 
dire field of battle in Moesia against the Sarmatians 
about a.d. 92, perishing there to the last man. 4 

One fact at least is certain — that the garrison 
of the Rhine after a.d. 71 was, with the two excep- 
tions of the Twenty-first and Twenty-second legions, 

1 Cf. Dio, lv. 24, 3 ; Ruggiero, Dizionario Epigrafico, ii. p. 513; 
Ritterling, W.-D. Zeitschrift, xii. 3, p. 234. 

2 Tiles and tombstones of the legionaries of XXII. are found at Xanten and 
Nymwegen, without the addition of pia fidelis to the name of the legion which 
it subsequently gained. Cf. Brambach, C.I.R. ; Weichert, W.-D. Zeitschrift, 
1902 ; Ritterling, ibid. xii. 3, p. 230; Diz. Epig. ii. p. 514 ; Hardy, Studies, 
p. 2IO sqq. 

3 This is Mommsen's view. For a discussion of the question cf. Hardy, 
Studies, p. 213, note. 

4 The legion destroyed by the Sarmatians (cf. Suetonius, Domitian, 6) 
has been supposed to be either V. Alaudae or XXI. Rapax. So Riese in 
the Diz. Epigrafico, ii. p. 514, believes it to have been the latter. Ritter- 
ling (IV.-D. Zeitschrift, xii. 3, p. 234) believes that V. Alaudae did continue 
to exist, but was destroyed under Domitian by the Dacians, while XXI. 
endured this fate at the hands of the Sarmatians a few years later. 


composed of entirely different regiments from those 
which had hitherto been encamped on the river. 1 
In both Lower and Upper Germany there were 
again four legions. In the former district Legio 

X. Gemina was stationed at Noviomagus (possibly 
Nymwegen 2 ); XXII. Primigenia at Vetera (by 
Xanten) ; VI. Victrix at Novaesium, till about 
a.d. 105, when it was moved to Vetera to take the 
place of the Twenty-second; and XXI. Rapax at 
Bonn up to a.d. 82, when it was moved to Mainz, 
and its place at Bonn was taken by the new legion, 
I. Flavia Minervia. This allotment of the legions 
shows that Vespasian thought it desirable to keep 
one legion in immediate touch with the Batavian 
land (at Nymwegen ?), whereas hitherto there had 
been no legionary camp on the river lower down 
than Vetera. In Upper Germany, Legions I. 
Adjutrix and XIV. Gemina were encamped together 
at Mainz, the defences there being strengthened ; 

XI. Claudia was stationed at Vindonissa ; and, 
in between the two places, VIII. Augusta was 
stationed at Strassburg (Argentoratum), a camp 
which had not been occupied since its legion, the 
Second Augusta, had been sent to Britain in, or 
perhaps before, a.d. 43. 3 

In the system of recruiting for the legions 
Vespasian is not known to have made any change. 

1 But Legio XXL, usually in garrison at Vindonissa, had been absent at 
the time of the mutiny. 

2 See note above, p. 310. 

3 For these legionary arrangements in Germany, cf. Riese, ap. Kuggiero, 
Diz. Epigrafuo, sub voc. " Germania," vol. ii. pp. 513, 514. One recently 
found tile of Legio II. at Strassburg is said to be earlier than a.d. 43 
(IVestd. Zeit. 1905, p. 330). 


No change, in fact, seemed possible. Neither were 
the legions shifted at short intervals from camp 
to camp, or summoned away save when urgent 
wars elsewhere made demands on the Rhine army. 
For the loyalty of that army Vespasian must have 
relied on the change of regiments for the immediate 
present, and, for the future, on the absence of such 
local discontent as had excited the sympathy of the 
former Vitellian army. He was not disappointed 
in his trust, and the legions on the Rhine gave him 
no cause of concern. Thus, after all, Augustus' 
system of permanent camps was justified. 

(2) The Auxilia. — The practice of using clan- 
regiments of auxiliaries in their native country had 
proved disastrous during the mutiny. Doubtless it 
had had the effect of popularising this branch of 
the service and of making recruits easy to obtain. 
In the case also of war in the adjoining districts 
such regiments might be expected to be well 
acquainted with the enemy's methods of fighting 
and the ground, and could obtain information and 
supplies far more easily from the country than could 
auxiliaries who were aliens and strange to the land. 
As the Roman army relied upon its auxiliaries for 
the all-important duties of reconnaissance and scout- 
ing, the advantages of using clan-regiments in their 
own country were indeed very great, quite apart 
from the great saving of expense of transport and 
maintenance which this system secured, and which 
counted not a little in the careful financial organisa- 
tion of the wiser and more thrifty of the early 
Emperors. There was, therefore, every reason for 


the choice of this system by Augustus and his 
immediate successors. But the mutiny had opened 
the eyes of the Roman Government to its risks. 
By the Flavian Emperors its many advantages were 
counted as nothing compared to its dangers, at least' 
upon the Rhine. No attempt was made to abolish 
clan-regiments. This indeed would have been far 
too sweeping a measure, and might have destroyed 
the auxiliary system completely. But, with very 
few exceptions, such regiments, both infantry and 
cavalry, are found serving in countries other than 
those of their origin. 

Thus the indigenous cohorts and alae, which 
before a.d. 70 had served on the Rhine, after that 
date were either disbanded or sent far afield to 
Britain, Raetia, Pannonia, Dacia, Moesia, even 
Mauretania. 1 In Lower Germany neither Germans 
nor Gauls seem to have been employed as troops 
under the Flavians. In Upper Germany there is still 
found under Vespasian and Domitian a squadron of 
Cannenefates, significantly removed from their own 
district at the mouth of the Rhine, and solitary 
cohorts of " Gauls," " Germans," and Bituriges. 
But the great majority of auxiliary troops in both 
provinces come from other countries. Cavalry 
squadrons of men from Africa, Ituraea, Moesia, 
Noricum, Thrace, serve in the Lower province. 
Cohorts, either infantry or mixed infantry and 

' E.g. in Britain are found Baetasii, Batavi, Cugerni, Frisii, Lingones, 
Menapii, Morini, Suebi, Tungri, Vangiones ; in Pannonia, Batavi, Cannene- 
fates, Helvetii ; in Raetia (from a.d. 103) and Dacia, Batavi ; in Moesia, 
Mattiaci, Ubii, Tungri ; in Mauretania, Sugambri. (List from Riese, cf. next 
note. ) 


cavalry, of Dalmatians, Spaniards, Lusitanians, 
Vindelicians, are found in the Lower province ; and 
in the Upper, of Aquitanians, Asturians, Dalmatians 
(at Wiesbaden and Bingen), Ituraeans and Damas- 
cenes from the East, Raeti (at Wiesbaden and 
Vindonissa), Pannonians (at Bingen), men of Cyrene 
(at Neuenheim), Thracians, and Vindelicians. The 
mere list shows how complete was Vespasian's 
reversal of the former practice, how utterly different 
was the army, as well of auxiliaries as of legionaries, 
which garrisoned the Rhine in his own and his sons' 
days from that which was submerged by the great 
flood of the mutiny or helped to swell its volume. 1 
Auxiliaries as well as legionaries are henceforward 
loyal to the Empire. " Vespasian was a soldier of 
sagacity and experience ; it is probably in good part 
a merit of his if we meet with no later example of 
revolt of the auxilia against their legions." 2 

The garrison of the Rhine of men of all arms in 

1 These details concerning the auxilia I take from Alex. Riese's valuable 
article " Germania " in the new Dizionario Epigrafico of Ruggiero, published 
last year. The whole subject of the auxiliary troops of the Imperial military 
system is as yet in a most dishevelled condition, and no good and complete 
treatment of it as a whole has yet, to my knowledge, been published. See 
Note H, "The Flavian Army of the Lower Rhine." 

2 Mommsen, Provinces, Eng. Trans, vol. i. p. 144, who also comments on 
the disappearance from the auxilia after this date of native officers, such as 
Arminius, Civilis, Classicus. But the clan-regiments surely continued to 
exist, though Mommsen seems to doubt this. "The men serve, without 
distinction as to their descent, in the most various divisions." This, of course, 
is true of such corps as the First and Second ala Flavia Gemina, the ala 
Singularium, the numerous cohortes voluntariorum civium Romanorum, etc., 
found in Flavian times on the Rhine. And the "special" corps, e.g. Cohors 
Sagittariorum, continue to be raised. But the great majority of regiments in 
Riese's long list bear at least clan names, and presumably continued to be 
composed, at least largely (? entirely), of the natives of those tribes or countries 
whose names they bear. 


Flavian times has been reckoned at some sixty-nine 
thousand men, of whom thirty -four thousand be- 
longed to the Upper, thirty-five thousand to the 
Lower, German province. 1 But as time went by, 
and men's memories of the mutiny grew dim, the 
Lower province, the scene once of its greatest fury 
and carnage, was found so peaceful that part of its 
troops, urgently needed by wars elsewhere, could 
with safety be withdrawn. Vespasian's annexation 
of the district of the Agri Decumates and the valley 
of the Neckar in a.d. 73-74, Domitian's warring 
with the Chatti some ten years later, employed the 
troops, without disturbing the peace, of the Upper 
province. And soon the storm-clouds came rolling 
up black and threatening ruin to the Roman Empire 
upon the Danube frontier. Under Marcus Aurelius 
two legions only were left in garrison upon the 
Lower Rhine. The tide of war had swept steadily 
eastwards, carrying with it the line of Roman forti- 
fications on the Upper Rhine and the military camps 
upon the Danube. The Teuton was yet to be at 
death-grips with the Roman. But the desperate 
struggle was to be waged upon both banks of the 
greater river and with new invading tribes. Few 
storms of war disturbed the calm surface of the Rhine 
after a.d. 70, and those were of brief duration. And 
the German tribes upon the Roman bank joined with 
Rome's troops upon the river in accepting loyally 
and placidly her sway. The great mutiny left no 
heritage of ill - will behind it to any generation. 
Rome was always truly victor because she knew 

1 Ritterling W.-D. Zeitschrift, xii. 3. p. 242. 

sbc. vni REBELLION ON THE RHINE 3 t>3 

how to use victory well. Her citizens shirked no 
military duty for pleasure or for any folly of 
humanitarian sentiment which, if indulged in, 
defeats its own ends. In the strength as in the 
valour of her " National army " she defied her 
enemies. Where she conquered she civilised. 
To those whom she defeated she taught the use 
of arms on her own behalf, as well as order and 
law. Her very rebels and subject races learnt the 
patriotism of Romans, a patriotism of self-sacrifice 
and deeds, not of boasts and empty words. And 
therefore, still in the days of her Emperors as in 
those earlier days when the citizen-soldier, trained 
from boyhood to the use of arms, crushed his Mace- 
donian or Carthaginian enemy, and hurled the 
Asiatic back behind the barriers of Taurus and 
Euphrates, Rome was an Imperial State. Still her 
patriotism was no mock patriotism, loud-tongued, 
afraid of burdens. Still the rock of her strength, 
though fiercely assaulted by the jealous hatred of 
her enemies, stood firm, because it was not yet 
undermined by cowardice and pleasure-seeking on 
the part of her citizens. 


During the time of the writing of this book I 
chanced to have been reading again part of the story 
of the making of modern Italy, that great epic of the 
nineteenth century. The contrast between the two 
periods of war in Italy and struggle with the German 
ene?ny, that of my writing and that of my reading, 
could not fail to present itself vividly. 

Ancient Rome won the unity of Italy, and then, in 
due course, her Empire, by the unflinching heroism 
and pure devotion to their country of her sons. Then 
it came to pass that greed and selfishness, ambition 
and passion, triumphed over patriotism, self-sacrifice, 
si7nphcity. In this book we have seen rival Italian 
leaders contending in furious struggle for the personal 
mastery. And all the while Italy lay unheeded, sorely 
wounded. Her life-blood was draining away ; her 
sons slew one another remorselessly ; while the da?igcr 
from the northern barbarian gathered ever more 
gloomily upon her frontiers. 

Now it is scarcely a generation since men have 
seen Italy won at last again to unity by the bravery 
and the endurance of her children. Mere boys and 



youths in the pride of their strength faced the cannon 
and the executioner with smiles on their lips ; women 
endured all agony of pain and loss ; men battled 
forward to victory in spite of peril, failure, and 
disaster. So unselfishness and patriotism won here 
their most renowned victory of modem times. 

Hurtful indeed and well-nigh ruinous to Italy ivas 
the "year of the four Emperors," when men fought 
for the sake of greed, or, more nobly, as in the case of 
our own Wars of the Roses, for personal devotion to 
so?ne leader, but not for love of country. For any 
cause other than the highest a man, it might be thought, 
would not willingly die. Yet these men in Italy of 
olden days did face death cheerfully for causes lower, 
and many of the?n base enough. And this is a glory, 
albeit a lesser glory, of Roman manhood. 

Salve, magna parens frugtim, Saturnia tellus, 
magna virum. 

For there are diseases of the body politic which 
cost a nation the loss of strength and manhood, and 
these are more injurious than is Civil War. Such 
were in due course to inflict upon Italy yet greater 
miseries than did even the masterful strivings of the 
rivals for Empire, before the time of her redemption 
came at last. Greater perils to a land even than 
armed ambition and cruelty are that craven self- 
regarding sloth and that veritable diruTr) rod irXovrov, 
deluding rich and poor alike by its enchantment, 
which, however fair- seeming may be the titles of peace 


and humanity under which they seek to disguise 
themselves — and what nobler names than these could 
ever be so misused? — would yet surrender the country 
indolent, poorly -armed, tim'eady, to the sudden on- 
slaught of a jealous and a vigorous foe. 

" Does the red stand for rose-leaves on our flag ? " 


A. — The Movements of the Danube Legions (p. 79) 

Tacitus (ii. 11) says: " Laeta interim Othoni principia belli, 
motis ad imperium eius e Dalmatia Pannoniaque exercitibus. Fuere 
quattuor legiones, e quibus bina milia praemissa ; ipsae modicis 
intervallis sequebantur." Again, in his enumeration of Otho's troops 
engaged in the battle of Locus Castorum (ii. 24) he writes : "Tertiae 
decumae legionis vexillum, quattuor auxiliorum cohortes et quingenti 
equites in sinistra locantur ; aggerem viae tres praetoriae cohortes 
altis ordinibus obtinuere ; dextra fronte prima legio incessit cum 
duabus auxiliaribus [MS. vexillaribus] cohortibus et quingentis 

The " Thirteenth " legion was one of the two in Pannonia ; the 
"First" was the legion from Rome belonging to the Army of Italy. 

It has been argued {e.g. by Pfitzner in his Geschichte der 
Kaiserlegionen) that by the time of this battle all four vexilla from 
the Pannonian and Dalmatian legions had arrived on the scene and 
not the one only of the Thirteenth legion. Hence for the unmeaning 
MS. reading "vexillaribus" in ii. 24 he would substitute " vexillariis " 
and take these two " vexillariae cohortes " to be two of the remaining 

This view is to be rejected. It is clear, as Gerstenecker {pp. cit. 
pp. 20-22, and note 47, p. 64) points out, that the vexillum of a legion 
cannot be properly described as a vexillaria cohors. The right form 
of description is already given in ii. 24 in the phrase "tertiae 
decumae legionis vexillum " ; i.e. the legion to which such a vexillum 
belonged is named. Moreover Tacitus, after his enumeration of the 
Othonian forces present at the battle, says expressly that there was 
no reserve, " nullum retro subsidium " (ii. 26). But he has not 
mentioned a fourth vexillum at all, supposing the two vexillariae 

337 Z 

338 NOTES 

cohortes were numbers 2 and 3. The proper inference is that there 
was no fourth vexillum present. Hence in ii. 24 we should accept 
the proposed " auxiliaribus " for the MS. " vexillaribus," and take 
these two cohorts to belong to the auxiliaries, not to be two of the 
vexilla of the Danube legions. In this case only one of the four 
vexilla has arrived on the scene by April 6, and hence my statements 
in the text are based on this conclusion. 

B. — The Capture of Cremona by the Vitellians (p. 81) 

Plutarch {Otho, c. 7) believes that Cremona remained in 
Othonian hands until after Caecina's vain attack on Placentia ; that 
Caecina then marched on the town to take it ; that Gallus marched 
thereupon to defend its garrison ; and that the battle of Locus 
Castorum was the result. 

This is certainly not Tacitus' view. According to him Cremona 
must have been occupied by the advance guard which Caecina sent 
/ over the Alps. It is certainly included in the phrase " florentissimum 
Italiae latus, quantum inter Padum Alpesque camporum et urbium, 
armis Vitellii tenebatur" (ii. 17), for it was "at the same time" 
(iisdem diebus) as the assault on Placentia that the Vitellian 
auxiliaries, fleeing before the foray of Macer's gladiators over the 
""fijiver, took refuge in the city (ii. 23). When then Caecina, on his 
jjtmarch from Placentia, "Cremonam petere intendit " (ii. 22), the 
words are not to be taken in the sense of a hostile movement. 
Probably Cremona was taken at the same time as the " Cohors 
Pannoniorum apud Cremonam," which may have been its garrison. 
Gerstenecker adopts Plutarch's view and supports it by a truly 
quaint argument, befitting an arm-chair student rather than any one 
with a knowledge of geography and military history. He maintains 
that had Cremona been captured before the attack on Placentia this 
I attack need never have been delivered at all. " Placentia would 
have been completely paralysed by Cremona" {op. at. p. 17). And 
he thinks this proved by the fact that subsequently Otho recalled 
Spurinna from Placentia when Cremona, without doubt, was occupied 
by the enemy (ii. 36). This last fact, however, proves nothing in his 
favour, as it is the eve of the last struggle and Otho must have 
every man available. Yet even so a garrison is still left by him 
in Placentia sufficient to hold the town. One fortress does not 
" paralyse " another. Placentia was invaluable to Otho when there 

NOTES 339 

was no bridge over the Po at Cremona. Does the German student 
expect Placentia to take the field, like Birnam Wood ? It was held 
to guard the great crossing of the river, and served this purpose 
equally well even if fifty Cremonas on the north bank were in the 
hands of the enemy. 

C. — The Site of Bedriacum (p. 86) 

The exact site of ancient Bedriacum has been a matter of dispute. 
There are three pieces of evidence : — 

(a) Tacitus. 

In ii. 23 Tacitus calls it a vicus "inter Veronam Cremonamque 
situs." Naturally, therefore, it would lie on the Roman road between 
these two towns. In iii. 1 5 he implies that it was situated where 
this road from Verona to Cremona was joined by the road along the 
north bank of the Po, which road he calls the Via Postumia (iii. 2 1 ; 
cf. C.I.L. i. 540). This was probably the road from Hostilia to 

This information is very precise, but, unfortunately for purposes 
of modern identification, the actual course of the Roman roads in 
this district has not been determined. The country here to-day is 
very flat, and well drained by modern ditches. Centuries' ruin and 
flood have obscured every trace of the old roads ; nor do any such 
traces remain, it seems, even of the Roman bridges, e.g. over the 
Oglio, which would greatly assist the inquiry. If, then, we do not 
know the actual course of the two roads, we are not greatly helped 
by learning that the village of our search lay at the point where they 

(b) The scholiast to Juvenal, ii. 99 and 106. 

Here Bedriacum is said to have been twenty miles from Cremona, 
and to have lain between Cremona and Hostilia. 

(c) The " Peutinger Table." l 

1 Conrad Peutinger of Augsburg (a.d. 1565-1647) possessed, it seems, a 
thirteenth-century copy of a Roman map of the third century A. D. , which he 
published. This gives a picture of the roads of the Roman Empire, naming 
the chief stations on them, and giving in figures the distances between them. 
It does not attempt to give any accurate delineation of shape, or to draw 
distances to scale. The result is a series of long strips of country which 
presents a very quaint appearance. But its information on vexed questions 
of site may of course be valuable, as in this case. 


This reads as follows : — 

Cremona — xxii. — Beloriaco — ,, — Mantua — xl. — Hostilia. 

Beloriaco is obviously Bedriacum. But there are two difficulties 
here : (i.) No distance is given between it and Mantua ; (ii.) The 
distance from Mantua to Hostilia is twice the correct number of 
miles. Mommsen's suggestion (op. Hermes, v. p. 163 n.) is that forty 
was the number of miles between Bedriacum and Hostilia, and that 
Mantua lay on a branch road which, " as often happens," has dis- 
appeared from the map. Hence the right reading should be 

Cremona — xxii. — Bedriaco — xl. — Hostilia. 

This would explain why the Juvenal scholia placed Bedriacum 
between Cremona and Hostilia rather than between Cremona and 

The difficulty in Mommsen's view is that it is hard to see why 
Mantua, an important town, should lie on a side road which would 
have been an exceedingly short one, and why, even on grounds of 
military exigency (as Mommsen urges), it should have been avoided 
by the main road. The explanation, however, of the difficulty of the 
Peutinger Table datum is the only one which we have, and holds 
the field. 

The distance of the modern village of Calvatone from Cremona 
tallies practically to a yard with that given by the Table for 
Bedriacum (33.02 kiL = 2oi English = 22 Roman miles). The 
scholiast's "twenty" is less trustworthy. The distances from Cremona 
of other villages suggested — Carneto, Cividale, S. Lorenzo Guazzone 
— suit neither of the figures. I have little doubt that Calvatone lies 
on the site of Bedriacum, and that the Roman road ran a quarter 
of a mile north of the modern high-road from Cremona to Mantua. 

D. — The '■'■Distances" in Taciitis, ii. 39, 40 (p. 114) 

Two statements of distance in Tacitus' account, when put 
together, present very great difficulties : — 

(1 ) ii. 39. " Promoveri ad quartum a Bedriaco castra placuit, adeo 
imperite ut quamquam verno tempore anni et tot circum amnibus 
penuria aquae fatigarentur." 

According to this the troops reach the fourth milestone from 
Bedriacum, i.e. a point eighteen miles from Cremona. See above, 
Note C, Position of Bedriacum. 

NOTES 341 

(2) ii. 40, 41. When the troops resume their march from this 
point — 

" Non ut ad pugnam sed ad bellandum profecti confluentes Padi 
et Aduae fluminum sedecim inde milium spatio distantes petebant." 

Celsus and Paulinus, in the next sentence, remonstrate against 
exposing their tired troops — " militem itinere fessum " — to an enemy 
who — " vix quattuor milia passuum progressus " — would be likely to 
attack them with vigour. 

The crux here is that the confluence is seven miles west of 
Cremona, and thus some twenty-five miles from the position in (1), 
not sixteen miles. 

Other difficulties of explanation are added, e.g. : — 

(i) How can a four-mile march distress the troops for want of 
water ? It seems absurd, however hot the sun. 

(2) Why do the troops want to get to the confluence at all ? No 
motive is given for this extraordinary objective. 

(3) How can the troops possibly expect to get to the confluence 
without fighting, as the road lies via Cremona ? What, then, is the 
meaning of "non ut ad pugnam sed ad bellandum profecti" ? 

Plutarch, it is true (Ot/to, ii.), has a different and straightforward 
account which presents none of these difficulties. According to him, 
the troops march first day fifty stades from Bedriacum, i.e. about six 
miles, and then encamp. The want of water is due to the " ludicrous " 
position chosen for the camp. Next day Proculus wishes " Trpodyew 
i~l roi'5 TToAe/itovs 68bv ovk eXdrrova (rraoYcoi' €ko.t6i>." 1 00 stades 
= 1 2 miles. This would bring the force to a point some four miles 
short of Cremona. Plutarch appears to have thought Cremona 
nearer than it actually was, or, more probably, the battle actually 
took place here. (See below.) But Suetonius and his party object- 
ing, nothing is done until Otho's orderly arrives with orders " fitj 
fievetv fii]8e 8ia.Tpi/3et,v, dW dyew evdvs cttI to us irokefuovs." They 
therefore "cipavres €\(opovv." Immediately the scene shifts to Caecina 
and Valens and the battle, without any further hint of its precise 
position on the road. 

This account is in itself not altogether satisfactory. But it does 
not raise the difficult questions presented by Tacitus. There is no 
word of the confluence in it, no hint that the troops were not 
marching out to make a frontal attack upon the Yitellian position at 
Cremona. On the contrary they marched along the road to fight, 
and, reasonably enough, did fight as soon as they met the enemy, 

342 NOTES 

at or near the city : four miles away, if we insist on Plutarch's 
distances. But his " ovk eAa-rrova" allows us some margin to play 

But if Plutarch has (on the whole) a simple straightforward view 
of events, this does not help us in the least to solve the perplexities 
of the Tacitean story, unless it induces us to reject the latter 
altogether in favour of the alternative. We have no right, and small 
inclination, to adopt this heroic course. 

Various solutions have been suggested of the perplexities of the 
second passage in Tacitus : — 

(a) Gerstenecker proposes a remarkable translation for it : 
" Nicht wie zu einer Schlacht, sondern wie zu einem Feldzuge 
aufgebrochen, befanden sie sich auf dem Marsche nach der 
Mtindung der Adda in den Po, sechzehn Milien davon entfernt " 
(op. cit. p. 32), i.e. "having set out, they found themselves at a 
distance of sixteen miles from the objective of their march, the 

This version separates " confluentes " and "distantes"; makes 
" distantes " agree with the subject of " petebant " ; and translates 
"petebant" as the equivalent of "arrived at" instead of "were 
making for." All this is surely impossible as a mere matter of the 
general run of a Latin sentence. It also gives no answer at all to 
the question of the reason for the objective, or to the question why 
the troops did not expect a battle. And it brings the army nine miles 
from Cremona ( = sixteen from the confluence) for the battle site, which 
agrees with no other datum of any kind and is intrinsically wildly 
improbable. Gerstenecker outrages Latin and only makes confusion 
worse confounded. 

(a) The new Kiepert map of North Italy (Berlin, 1902), to my 
amazement, I find escorting the Adda into the Po through the very 
town of Cremona itself. I can only infer that this is Kiepert's effort 
to solve this very problem. Bedriacum to Cremona = twenty miles 
(according to the scholiast's account) : the troops march four miles : 
they are then sixteen miles from the confluence. It must follow that 
Cremona is at the confluence and the confluence at Cremona ! If 
Tacitus will not suit the course of the river, then the course of the 
river must suit Tacitus ! Dr. Grundy's recent map of Italy (Murray, 
n. d.) avoids this error. Of course this solution cannot be entertained 
for a moment. 

(c) The words " Confluentes Padi et Aduae " give all the trouble. 

NOTES 343 

How simple, then, is the remedy of rejecting the words " Padi et 
Aduae " entirely as an addition by a very ignorant scribe which has 
crept unluckily into the text ! The troops are making for a " con- 
fluence " sixteen miles away. What confluence is the proper distance 
from their first camp ? At this point a stream, the " Caneta " by 
name, is produced by Nipperdey, flowing from the north into the 
Po. Nipperdey's "Caneta" is cheerfully quoted by Professor Bury 
(Students' Rowan Empire, p. 349), and Mr. Hardy believes in "a 
small stream from the north " (P/utarch's Lives of Galba and Ot/10, 
p. 254; cf. his whole note on the matter, pp. 253-55, w ' tn i ts 
despairing conclusion). On this view of the situation the troops 
intend to diverge from the main road southwards towards the Po 
" to get into touch with Macer's gladiators." But they all mean to 
fight, and the words " non ut ad pugnam sed ad bellandum profecti " 
are merely meant as a picturesque description of the general careless- 
ness and disorderliness of their march. 

This indeed is a violent remedy, when a puzzled scholiast is in- 
vented to create the whole difficulty. Not even a scholiast would 
lightly have thought that the Adda joined the Po east of Cremona. 
Why in the world should he have inserted an impossible river into 
the narrative ? Why should an impossible insertion have been 
accepted ever since ? Praestat difficilius ? Not a bit of it ! We 
get rid of the words which cause the whole difficulty and build our 
hopes on the river Caneta ! 

Veritably they are built on sand and not on a river at all ! The 
large scale Italian ordnance map of Cremona lies before me as I 
write (Fo. 61, 1897, scale 1 : 100,000). For the twelfth time I 
search seventy-five square miles of country east and south-east of 
Cremona to find the name of Caneta. There are plenty of " Ca," 
but this presumably stands for "Casa. ! ' There is no Caneta. Very 
wisely Mr. Hardy wrote of his "small stream from the north" with- 
out naming it. But there is a brooklet or a ditch called, it seems, 
Dugale Pozzolo, with a course (so far as I can track it) of some 
seven miles, which enters the Po from the north at Isola Pescaroli. 
Its beginning seems to be four miles away from Cremona. Its 
"confluence" is nine miles from the camp, "fifty stades west of 
Bedriacum." This distance refuses to suit anything. Is this "Dugale 
Pozzolo " (if that be its name) the notable stream which makes a 
confluence? Is the "confluence" an error for the source of this 
noble river (9 + 7 = 16)? What then befalls Macer's gladiators, 

344 NOTES 

who could have jumped this ditch here? All this Caneta- erratic 
scholiast story is a mere tissue of silliness. 

(d) Mommsen {Hermes, v. pp. 171-73) proposes to regard the 
distance, sixteen miles, as due to a confusion in Tacitus' own mind 
between the ultimate objective of the whole march, viz. the confluence 
of the Adda and Po, and the proposed end of the first day's march 
on the way to the objective. In his view the army did not set out 
to fight, nor did it intend to march for the confluence by way of 
Cremona. But the plan was that, after marching for some distance 
along the main road, it should diverge to the north-west and plant 
itself astride the Cremona-Brescia road to the north of the former 
town. The proposed end of the first day's march is sixteen miles 
away from the camp, four miles from Bedriacum. [This would not 
have reached the road to Brescia.] But the troops do not get so 
far. For after marching along the road twelve miles (Plutarch's one 
hundred stades) to the point where they mean to leave it. at this 
point they meet the enemy come out from Cremona to fight. 
Tacitus' whole account is unintelligible because he misunderstands 
the military situation. The army is ordered to provoke a fight, not 
by marching straight on the enemy but by threatening their com- 
munications ; and the distance of the intended end of the first day's 
march is confused with that of the confluence, the ultimate objective. 

Mommsen thus accepts the objective and propounds briefly the 
idea of a flank march, but rejects the number sixteen as given for 
the distance of the objective. He regards, it seems, Brescia as 
being of some importance, whereas this road, as I have explained in 
the text, mattered little or nothing to the Vitellians. And the whole 
march is treated in isolation instead of as part of one great strategi- 
cal idea. The criticism of Tacitus' failings as a military historian 
must win the acceptance of every student of the historian. To 
Mommsen's whole paper the student of the Histories owes much, 
and not least in the consideration of the difficulties of these particular 
passages in Tacitus' account. 

I have endeavoured in the text of this chapter to develop my view 
of the whole strategy of the battle. But with regard to the special 
difficulties of the Tacitus sentences mentioned at the beginning of 
this note, I would suggest that one simple alteration of a numeral in 
the first passage will clear most of them up. To alter the "sedecim" 
(as has been proposed), of course, would get rid also of the main crux 
of the second passage, but leaves the " water " difficulty of the first 

NOTES 345 

unexplained. But an alteration of " quartum " to " quartum decu- 
mum," if allowed, solves both. The plan works out as follows : — 

end of first day's 
march. (14 miles) 

Confluence , ■, Cremona •, ■,. ■, Bedriacum 
^ 7 miles %s Smiles k 74 miles £\ 

Cremona to Bedriacum 22 miles 

The first day's march is fourteen miles. This is eight miles 
from Cremona (22-14) an d thus fifteen from the confluence. The 
discrepancy of a mile (roughly) need not trouble us greatly. 
The force is then " fifteen miles from the confluence " in a straight 
line. Perhaps the sixteenth mile allows for the circle round the city; 
for of any wide turning movement Tacitus has no notion. The 
troops are naturally distressed for want of water after fourteen miles, 
as well as because where they encamp there is none (Plutarch). Next 
day Suetonius urges that the enemy will have "barely four miles to 
march." It looks as if he thought both sides would set out to march 
at the same time, and so would meet in the middle of the eight miles 
which then separated the Othonians from the city. 

Tacitus seems to believe the whole march and fight took place in 
one day, which accounts best for his making Suetonius insist on the 
weariness of his own men. Plutarch definitely says the fight was on 
the second day after leaving camp. This is more probable. But 1 
can make nothing of Plutarch's figures. They disagree entirely with 
Tacitus' whether we read four or fourteen, save that, if we read 
fourteen and then make the force advance four miles farther next 
day for the battle (the "half eight" required by Suetonius' state- 
ment of the distance to be marched by the enemy), then in Tacitus' 
account as well as in Plutarch's the battle takes place eighteen miles 
from Bedriacum (150 stades) and four from Cremona. 

My whole account in the text of the movements of the troops is 
based on my " fourteen miles " suggestion and on the importance of 
the mention of the confluence of Adda and Po. Of course, the view 
there taken of Otho's strategy as a whole is entirely independent 
of the difficulty of the figures names are far more valuable than 
figures) and of the proposed alteration of these. 

346 NOTES 

E. — Tacitus as Military Historian 

In my Preface I have stated my view that Tacitus' information 
"in matters military represents the common gossip of the camp, the 
talk of the private or of the subordinate officer." 

The narrative and the notes to it have given not a few instances 
in support of this contention. A bare summary of the more import- 
ant of these from Chapter I. may be presented here, in proof of the 
contention, for clearness' sake : — 

(i) Caecina's hesitation as to his route to Italy: described by 
Tacitus as a choice between an invasion of Italy and an attack on 
Noricum. (Tacitus, i. 70.) See above, § 4, pp. 66-69. 

(2) Otho's motive for sending the fleet to Narbonese Gaul : 
Tacitus fails to understand its bearing upon the general strategical 
situation. (Tacitus, i. 87 ; ii. 12-16.) See above, § 5, pp. 73-79. 

(3) Valens' despatch of the Batavian cohorts to the coast to 
guard his flank : Tacitus reproduces the complaints of the common 
soldiers. When the private marching east sees his comrade detached 
to march south, he does not think of strategic necessities, the safety 
of lines of communication and retreat, etc. etc. When he murmurs 
secretly, or, in the time of civil war when discipline has gone to the 
dogs, grumbles openly, he is thinking that the enemy, of unknown 
strength, will have twice as good a chance of disposing of his own 
valuable life. Hence he enunciates in exactly the wrong place a 
splendid principle of strategical concentration, " Let the whole army 
stick together," etc. Tacitus himself sees in Valens' action only 
his desire to "guard his allies and to get rid of mutineers from his 
army " ; both only primary and not ultimate strategical reasons, if 
true. (Tacitus, ii. 28.) See above, § 4, pp. 61-62. 

(4) Spurinna's reconnaissance in force from Placentia : according 
to Tacitus forced by a mutinous soldiery on a reluctant general. 
(Tacitus, ii. 18, 19.) See above, § 6, pp. 82-83. 

(5) Caecina's attack on Placentia: Tacitus explains it as due to 
his desire to score an opening success— a motive of very secondary 
weight. (Tacitus, ii. 20.) See above, § 6, pp. 83-84. 

(6) The battle of Locus Castorum : a most confused tale in 
Tacitus. But he does seem to understand and appreciate Suetonius' 
reasons for recalling his troops from pursuit. (Tacitus, ii. 24-26.) 
See above, § 6, pp. 87-92. 

(7) The bridge-building at Cremona, and— 

NOTES 347 

(8) Otho's order "to attack." 

According to Tacitus, Caecina and Valens hear of the Othonian 
intention to attack, and so " like wise men stay quiet to take advan- 
tage of others' folly": "Caecina ac Valens, quando hostis imprudentia 
rueret, quod loco sapientiae est, alienam stultitiam opperiebantur." 
But in order to give their idle troops something to do, they begin 
their mock bridge-building — "ne ipsorum miles segne otium tereret " 
(Tacitus, ii. 34). Even Mommsen himself agrees that the bridge- 
building "cannot have been seriously meant" {Hermes, v. p. 165). 

This entirely fails to realise the whole strategical plans of both 
sides. It is a shallow conclusion from results. Because the bridge 
was not finished, it was not meant to be finished. Because the 
Othonians' advance led to an attack, they meant to attack. Because 
they were defeated, their attack was folly. 

I have endeavoured to show the deeper significance of the plans 
of both sides, the evidence for them, and the reasons why Tacitus 
failed to understand them, in the whole of §§ 7, 8. 

(9) Otho's withdrawal to Brixellum with a considerable number 
of troops : described by Tacitus as a step urged on him and agreed 
to by him in order that he might not incur the risk of the battle 
(Tacitus, ii. 33). I have commented on the improbability of this in 
§ 7, p. 107. Apart from its inconsistency with all that we know 
besides of the Emperor's character and acts, he did not need so large 
a bodyguard if all that he and others were thinking of had been his 
own personal safety. 

Tacitus' whole account of these closing scenes of the campaign 
makes the Vitellians act like babies ("Satan finds some mischief 
still," etc.), and Otho a strategical idiot and a craven as well. He 
becomes himself again only just in time to die. 

The picture of Vitellius, however, is harmonious throughout and 
a masterpiece. So simple a character could hardly be misunder- 

In the following two chapters Tacitus' failings are those of the 
lack of strategical insight upon more than one occasion. They lend 
themselves, however, less easily to the purposes of a catalogue, and 
may be left to the discovery and appreciation of the reader. See 
also the Index, "Tacitus as Military Historian." 

348 NOTES 

F. — Valetis' March to the North (p. 173) 

Tacitus' account of this (iii. 41, 42) is very perplexing. Accord- 
ing to it, Valens receives the news of the mutiny of the Ravenna 
fleet "while on the march," i.e. from Rome. He was, of course, 
marching by the Via Flaminia. This road runs through Southern 
Etruria for a few miles after leaving Rome, enters Umbria near 
Ocriculum, and continues in this district up to and beyond Ariminum, 
which town is in Umbria. From Ariminum there is a choice of 
roads. The coast road runs north to Ravenna, crossing the Rubicon 
a few miles from Ariminum. This river formed the northern 
boundary of Umbria. The main road, however, strikes away north- 
west from Ariminum, leaves Umbria near the town of Cesena, and 
continues via Faventia to Bononia, whence a road runs north to 
Hostilia, while the highway continues in a straight line to Placentia. 

The puzzle is to discover where Valens was when he heard of the 
mutiny of the fleet. Tacitus' account is that, when the news came, if 
Valens had hastened he might have reached Caecina while the latter 
was still wavering, or have reached the legions before the critical battle. 
There were actually some who advised him " ut per occultos tramites 
vitata Ravenna Hostiliam Cremonamve pergeret." But he halts 
where he is, and sends to Rome for reinforcements. When these 
arrive in small numbers, viz. three cohorts and one ala, he is unable 
"to force his way through the enemy" (vadere per hostes). He is 
fearful, too, of their scanty loyalty. " Eo metu cohortes Ariminum 
praemittit, alam tueri terga iubet : ipse . . . flexit in Umbriam 
atque inde Etruriam." In Etruria he hears of the battle at Cremona, 
and makes his way to the sea at Pisa (iii. 42). 

From this account, studied in connection with the geography, I 
conclude that Valens must have been already on the road between 
Ariminum and Ravenna when the news of the fleet's mutiny came. 
Had he still been south of Ariminum the following difficulties present 
themselves : — 

(a) There was not the slightest need for him to march "per 
occultos tramites " if he desired to get to Hostilia as quickly as 
possible while avoiding Ravenna. The quickest route for him, if 
still south of Ariminum, was by the main road via Bononia. But if 
he were already north of Ariminum and near Ravenna, then the 
cross-roads recommended to him, e.g, from Cesenatico to Cesena, 
would save time. 

NOTES 349 

(b) When his reinforcements have arrived he will not inarch via 
Ravenna, as they are too weak. He therefore "sends the infantry 
before him to Ariminum, and bids the cavalry guard his rear." 
Now, if he is marching in a hurry north to Ariminum, these dis- 
positions are too ludicrous for words. The danger is all in his 
front : he therefore puts his cavalry to guard his rear ; the need for 
speed is urgent : he therefore places his infantry at head of the 
column ! But if he is retiring on Ariminum from the north the 
arrangement is clear. The cavalry are properly placed to guard 
the rear of the retreat. He himself, however, does not accompany 
the column, as he has given up the plan of getting to the Po at all. 

(c) He himself "turns aside first to Umbria, next to Etruria." 
But if he is south of Ariminum he is already in Umbria. For he 
cannot have been still within a few miles of Rome. (Why should 
the cavalry guard his rear, above all, in this case ?) If he has alreadv 
crossed the Rubicon, he may have recrossed it into Umbria before 
leaving that district again for Etruria and the west. But even this 
would give him but a mile or two in Umbria, as he clearly did not 
accompany his troops to Ariminum, which is hard by the boundary 
of the province. The words " flexit in Umbriam " are, indeed, almost 
unmeaning. Valens' obvious route, if (for reasons (a) and (6)) we 
believe him to have been north of Ariminum, was to proceed via 
Cesena to Faventia (Faenza), thence cross the mountains by the 
well-known road to Florence and the valley of the Arno, and so to 
Pisa at the mouth of this river. This ridge of the Apennines is not 
easily crossed even by a small company, as those who have roamed 
about the Prato Magno chain or crossed from the Casentino and La 
Verna to Badia Prataglia and Urbino can tell. Even the road over 
the Consuma Pass has only just been opened. The mountains are 
truly magnificent, and I saw no snow on Falterona in September. 
But the going is hard. I doubt if Valens and his small faithful 
band disturbed the autumn leaves in Vallombrosa. North of the 
Metaurus and the Furlo Pass (whence the Arno valley can be 
reached by Urbania and Borgo San Sepolcro, or by Gubbio farther 
south) the first good track to the Arno valley is the route now 
followed by the railway from Faenza via Brisighella and Borgo San 
Lorenzo to Florence. If Valens was in the neighbourhood of Rimini 
and wished to get speedily to Pisa, this was his natural road. 

If, then, Valens had crossed the Rubicon travelling north, his near 
approach may account for the sudden mutiny by night at Ravenna, 

350 NOTES 

which seems to have surprised Caecina before he was ready also 
to play the traitor. For Tacitus says that Valens could still have 
reached him by rapid movement before he, too, went over. 

But if there were, as Tacitus suggests, a secret agreement between 
Caecina and liassus, Valens must have been near at hand indeed if 
he could have arrived in time to dissuade Caecina from following his 
fellow-traitor's example. 

The whole discussion may at least serve to illustrate Tacitus' 
inexcusable vagueness in his military history. His interest in geo- 
graphy is evidently of the most casual description. One other 
example of this blemish in the history may here be appropriately 
mentioned. Valens is presently captured by the Flavians at the 
lies d'Hyeres, near Toulon (iii. 43). When Tacitus next mentions 
him it is to remark casually that he is in prison at Urbinum (iii. 62). 
Why at this little mountain city in Umbria, of all places in Italy ? 
Why, when, and how did the Flavians take him there ? Doubtless 
his head was useful to the enemy marching for Rome, and it must 
have been forwarded to them for use at Carsulae, eighty miles to the 
south. After all, Hasdrubal's head travelled a longer journey down 
the same road. But why the unlucky Valens should have been 
escorted for execution to Urbino, which lies up in the hills ten miles 
from Fossombrone and away from the main road south, is a problem 
to which I can give no answer, and Tacitus vouchsafes no explana- 
tion. If Valens had been a Garibaldi fleeing through these moun- 
tains for dear life, Urbino might have been his San Marino, and the 
problem would be easier. But Valens was a prisoner. 

G. — Vetera and Harper's Ferry (p. 283) 
The situation on the Potomac at the time of the Confederates' 
invasion of Maryland, following upon their brilliant victory of Second 
Manassas in September 1862, was so similar to that on the Rhine 
towards the end of a.d. 69 that the former may, it seems to me, 
help to explain the latter so far as Vocula's decision not to evacuate 
Vetera is concerned. Of course no other comparison is intended, 
for never did the brilliant genius of the Southern commanders in 
civilised warfare more completely outshine the mediocre respect- 
abilities on the Federal side than in this campaign, and the mere 
thought of a Stonewall Jackson and a Civilis together seems 
ludicrous. But a brief note may be desirable to explain the point 
of the comparison in the text. 

NOTES 35 , 

A bare sketch may serve to illustrate the note : the Roman 
"equivalents" are printed in capitals. Points of the compass, of 
course, are of no matter in such a comparison, and the Potomac- 
Rhine may be taken as flowing in any direction : — 

_ , . n Baltimore 

Frederic u cologne: 

D-0ELDW6A y 



Harper's Ferry 


Potomac River —~ QWashington 

- RHINE mainz 


Dotted lines show the direction of attack (expected or actual) by the 
Confederates or Germans. 

At Harper's Ferry there was a Federal garrison of twelve thousand 
men ; at Washington, M'Clellan's main army of ninety thousand men. 
The Confederates, fifty thousand strong, invaded Maryland, from 
Leesburg to Frederic, and threatened an advance on Baltimore, if 
not on Washington itself. The question for the Federal authorities 
was whether, while there was still time, the garrison at Harper's 
Ferry should be recalled. M'Clellan desired this, but his political 
superiors overruled him. It was clear that so strongly garrisoned a 
fort must seriously threaten the line of communication of the Con- 
federate invaders. Might it not be expected to stop their projected 
inroad entirely ? And if from Frederic they turned on Harper's 
Ferry, surely they could be caught between two fires — the garrison 
and M'Clellan's army — and, outnumbered (as usual) by two to one, 
be annihilated. So the parallel works out thus : — 

_ Federal . Harper's Ferrv ... . 

Cal1 thC ROMAN gamSOn at VETERA ^^ ° r t™*™* 

.. , Baltimore , , . Confederates ., , 

the advance on „„„ made by the „ if these propose 

Cologne ' Germans ^ v 

to neglect it and advance via „ , leaving the fort in their 

Gelduba' ° 

rear ? And if not, can the foe not be driven back upon the hostile 

f . , ., Federal M'Clellan , up 

iort by the main „ army under , T advancing , 

' Roman ' Vocula down 

.. Potomac , Washington , 

the river _ from »» ? 

Rhine Mainz 

352 NOTES 

In the result, the Federal Government risked it and ordered 
the garrison to remain. The Confederates thereupon dared to 
detach a force of twenty-five thousand men upon Harper's Ferry, 
despite the imminent peril from M'Clellan, and the garrison of the 
fort (somewhat ignominiously) surrendered after some show of 
resistance. Vocula similarly risked it, and also lost his fortress 
in consequence, under the circumstances detailed in the text. But 
I take it that the retention of both Harper's Ferry and Vetera was 
dictated by much the same military considerations. 

H. — The Flavian Army of the Lower Rhine (p. 331) 

A newly-found military diploma, of date April 1 5, A.D. 78, shows 
that there were then stationed on the Lower Rhine these six alae, 
viz. : ala Noricorum (placed by Ritterling at Burginatium by Calcar), 
ala Singularium (at Vada), ala Moesica (at Asciburgium), ala 
Afrorum veterana (at Vetera ?), ala Siliana, and ala Sulpicia (? at 
Bonn, Noviomagus, or Neuss), and also the Cohors I. Flavia 
Hispanorum. To these must be added the ala Indiana (at 
Worringen). Ritterling supposes that all these troops made their 
first appearance on the Rhine under Vespasian. The actual 
recipient of the diploma, though belonging to the ala Moesica, is 
by nationality a Trevir. Otherwise this evidence is consistent with 
the view taken on pp. 330-331. 

Besides the above cohort, Ritterling gives the following cohorts 
to the Flavian army of the Lower Rhine: — II. Asturum, II. Britt., 
I. and II. civ. Rom., III. Dalmatarum, VI. ingenuorum, II. His- 
panorum, . . . Lucensium, III. Lusitanorum, I. Tracum (?), II. 
Varcianorum, I. Vindelicorum, and XV. voluntariorum. This is a 
completer list than Riese's, but the conclusions to be drawn from it 
are the same. 

Also Legio VII. Gemina seems to have been employed on the 
Rhine by Rutilius Gallicus in A.D. 77-78 in his war with the Bructeri. 
It was probably in this war that the prophetess Veleda was captured 
(see p. 316). Cf. E. Ritterling ap. Korrespondensblatt der westd. 
Zeitschrift, xxv. (1906), pp. 20-28, and von Domaszewski in Linden- 
schmit's Heidn. Altert. Bd. v. Heft vi. (1905). 


Abetone Pass, the, 54 

Adda, the river (Adua), 101-114, 12 4> 

Adige, the river, 169-172, 185, 187 
Aedui, the, 59 
Agrestis, Julius, 213, 214 
Agricola, 73 

Albenga (Albingaunum), 76, 78 
Albinus, Lucceius, 25 
Alexander, Tiberius Julius, 22, 23, 

137. 141 
Allobroges, the, 60 
Alps, the Cottian. See Mont Genevre 

the Julian or Pannonian, 147, 148, 

158, 159, 164, 165 
the Pennine. See St. Bernard Pass, 

Passes of the, 39, 40, 42-45. 57. 5 8 - 

67, 68, 291 
Altino (Altinum), 169, 185 
Andernach, 58 
Annius Gallus. See Gallus 
Antibes (Antipolis), 76 
Antioch, 142, 144 
Antiochus of Commagene, 143 
Antonius Primus, M., 138, 157-164, 

176, 178, 179, 182-213, 218-227, 
248, 249 

Antonius, Saturninus, rebellion of, 294 
Apennines, passes of the, 54, 209- 

212, 349 
Aponius Saturninus, M., 31-32, 155- 

156, 160, 165, 189 
Aquae Helvetiorum (Baden), 63 
Aquae Mattiacae (Wiesbaden), 251, 

Aquileia, 37, 40, 46-50, 56, 66, 71, 
77> 79' 86, 101, 103, 136, 141, 
148, 158, 161, 164, 169, 170, 

177. 185 
Arenacum (Ryndern?), 310 
Argentoratum (Strassburg), 328 

Aricia, 212 

Ariminum (Rimini), 39, 172, 183, 184, 

209-211, 348 
Arlberg Pass, the, 67, 293 
Army, the Roman : 

the Imperial military system, 16-19, 

329-33 1 
the permanent camps(Castrastativa), 

18-19, 2 66, 324-329 
the system of recruiting, 17-18, 259, 

323-3 2 9 
the cavalry, 17, 160 
the Cohortes praetoriae (Praetorian 
under Nero, 2 
under Galba, 7, 13, 15 
under Otho, 26, 27, 32-35, 54-55. 

70, 75, 88-89 
under Vitellius, 130, 134-135, 198- 
200, 202, 208, 214, 2T5, 
the Cohortes urbanae, 32-35, 130, 

214-215, 217 
the Auxilia : 

numbers, etc., 16, 17, 256 
system of "clan regiments," 257- 

259. 329-331 
Alae : 

Afrorum, 352 
Batavorum, 257, 262 
Gallorum Sebosiana, 17J 
Hispanorum Auriana, 162 
Moesica, 352 
Noricorum, 352 
Petriana, 66 

Picentina, 257, 289-290, 296 
Siliana, 34, 35, 43, 65, 70, 352 
Singularium, 293, 331, 352 
Sulpicia, 352 
Tampiana, 154 
Tauriana, 27, 35, 60 
Treverorum, 75, 247, 256, 257, 
259, 262, 263 

! 2 A 



Cohortes : 

Asturum, 256, 331, 352 
Baetasiorum, 290, 330 
Batavorum, 59, 61, 131, 133, 
134, 248, 256-258, 263, 

Belgarum, 256, 257 
Breucorum, 256 
Cannenefatum, 256, 257, 263, 

Dalmatarum, 352 
Flavia Hispanorum, 352 
Lusitanorum, 352 
Nemetum, 256 
Nerviorum, 256, 257, 290 
Pannoniorum, 80, 331, 338 
Raetorum, 256, 331 
Silaunensium, 256 
Thracum, 352 
Tungrorum, 240, 241, 256, 

257, 262, 290, 330 
Ubiorum, 256, 257, 262, 263, 

271. 33° 
Varcianorum, 352 
Vasconum, 256, 274 
Vindelicorum, 256, 331, 352 
the Legions : 

I. 6, 11, 35, 57, 88, 167, 198, 
199, 254, 256, 263, 268- 
276, 289, 297, 300, 325, 
I. Adjutrix, 33-35, 70, n8, 132, 
133, 138, 166, 207, 214, 
292, 294, 328 
I. Flavia Minervia, 327, 328 
I. Italica, 27, 35, 60, 167, 170, 

198, 199 

II. Adjutrix, 214, 291, 292, 307 
II. Augusta, 24, 166, 167, 198, 

199, 328 
III. Augusta, 23, 166 
III. Cyrenaica, 22, 143 

III. Gallica, 30-32, 35, iSS'^. 

141, 142, 155, 161, 165, 
189, 198, 199, 202, 203 

IV. Flavia, 326 

IV. Macedonica, 26, 35, 167, 198, 
199, 255, 256, 268-276, 

3 2 5- 3 2 ° 
IV. Scythica, 21, 141 
V. Alaudae, 26, 35, 57, 118, 167, 
181, 190, 198, 199, 253, 
256, 262, 264-276, 325, 

3 2 7 
V. Macedonica, 21, 142 
VI. Ferrata, 21, 141 163 
VI. Vtctrix, 24, 166, 292, 307, 328 

VII. Claudia, 30, 35, 135-137, 155, 

161, 189, 198, 199, 291, 292 

VII. Galbiana (or Gemina), 6, 30, 

35, 101, 135, 136, 138, 

157, 158, 186, 198, 199, 

200, 203, 352 

VIII. Augusta, 30, 35, 135-137, 161. 

189, 198, 199, 291, 292, 

294, 328 

IX. Hispana, 24, 166, 167, 198, 

199, 223 
X. Fretensis, 21, 142 
X. Gemina, 24, 166, 292, 328 
XI. Claudia, 30, 35, 101, 135, 136, 
1 3^> 155- 291, 292, 294, 
XII. Fulminata, 21, 141 

XIII. Gemina, 30, 35, 86, 88, 95, 

118, 135, 136, 138, 186, 
198, 199, 291, 337 

XIV. Gemina, 24, 30, 31, 35, 95, 

118, 134, 135, 138, 166, 
235- 2 57. 291, 292, 294, 
305, 306, 328 
XV. Apollinaris, 21, 142, 326 
XV. Primigenia, 26, 35, 57, 167, 
198, 199, 253, 256, 262, 
264-276, 325, 326, 327 
XVI. 26, 35, 57, 167, 198, 199, 254, 
256, 269-276, 289, 297, 
300, 325, 326 
XVI. Flavia, 326 

XX. Valeria Victrix, 24, 166, 167, 

198, 199 

XXI. Rapax, 26, 35, 57, 118, 167, 

170, 198, 199, 255. 291- 

294, 303, 327, 328 

XXII. Deiotariana, 22, 142, 198, 199, 

XXII. Primigenia, 26, 35, 57, 167, 
255,256, 268-276, 325-328 
Arnhem, 231, 236, 262, 263, 310 
Arrius Varus, 157, 163, 164, 189, 193, 

Asciburgium(Asberg by Mors), 257, 273 
Ateste (Este), 169, 185 
Augustus, the Emperor, 7, 19, 235, 

251, 266, 301, 324, 329 
Auspex, Julius, 247 
Auxilia, the. See Army, the Roman 
Aventicum (Avenches), 64, 69 

Baetasii, the, 241, 244, 330 ; and see 

Army, the Roman 
Bassus, Annius, 155 
Bassus, Sextus Lucilius, 170, 179-181, 




Batavi, the, 232-241, 245, 248, 261, 
262, 300, 302, 305, 314, 315, 

319. 3 2I -3 2 3. 33° 
Batavian cohorts, the, 59, 61-62, 

235, 248, 257, 258, 261 
Insula Batavorum, 232-234, 236, 

253' 2 57. 262, 308, 309, 313 
Oppidum Batavorum (? Cleve), 236, 
Batavodurum (? Nymwegen), 232, 262, 

310, 328 
Bedriacum (Calvatone) : 
site of, 85-86, 339-340 
Othonian camp at, 85, 95, 101-114 
first battle of, 114-121, 140 
second battle of, 192-204 
Belgae, the, 241, 256 ; and see Nervii, 

Berenice, Queen, 144 
Berytus, 144, 154 

Bingium (Bingerbriick), 296, 298, 331 
Bolanus, M. Vettius, 24 
Bonn, 9, 26, 254, 257, 263, 264, 268, 

309, 311, 327, 328, 352 
Bononia (Bologna), 39, 129, 135, 183, 

Brenner Pass, the, 46, 56, 66-69, 86, 

169, 187 
Brescello (Brixellum), 106, 107, 116, 

122, 124 
Brescia (Brixia), 101, 203, 344 
Briancon (Brigantio), 61, 78 
Bridge at Cremona, the, 94-96, 104, 

105, 346-347 
Briganticus, Julius, 247, 293, 320 
Brinno, 261-262 

Britain, the Army of, 24, 36, 59, 96, 
99, 166 ; and see Provinces, the 
Bructeri, the, 239, 289, 300, 302, 352 
Brundisium, 147 
Byzantium, 146, 148 

Caecina Alienus, Aulus : 
early career, 11-12 
invasion of Italy, 57, 62-70, 78, 83- 

first campaign of Bedriacum, 92-95, 

117-120, 122 
under Vitellius, 128, 137 
second campaign of Bedriacum, 167, 

184, 186-190, 204-205 
generalship, 88-92, 100 
character, 63, 83, 93, 180 
Caeracates, the, 295 
Cagli (Cales), 209 
Calenus, Julius, 247 

Caligula, the Emperor, 3, 10, 229, 

261, 317 
Calvatone. See Bedriacum 
Campania, 216-217, 230 
"Caneta," the, 343"344 
Cannenefates, the, 234, 235, 237, 239, 

258, 261-262, 305, 306, 315, 330 
Cantiano, 209 
Capito, Fonteius, 9 
Capitol, the burning of the, 224-225, 

244, 285 
Carmel, Mount, 140 
Carsulae, 219, 221, 350 
Castel by Mainz, 251-252 
" Castra stativa," the, 18-19, 324-329 
Castra Vetera. See Vetera 
Cerialis, Q. Petilius, 223-225, 292-317 
Chalon-sur-Saone (Cabillonum), 59 
Chatti, the, 232, 234, 239, 251, 284, 

294. 3!5> 332 
Chauci, the, 236, 237, 239, 304, 309, 

Cherusci, the, 240 
Cimbri, the, 240 
Civilis, Julius, 245, 247-250, 257, 258, 

261-277, 284, 288-290, 295, 298, 

300, 304-315, 317, 320, 322 
Classicus, Julius, 75, 247, 258, 285- 

288, 295, 298, 300, 304, 305, 317 
Claudius, the Emperor, 3, 10, 12, 19, 

22, 24, 236, 251, 252, 301, 317 
Claudius Sanctus, 289 
Cleve (? Oppidum Batavorum), 236, 308 
Cluvius Rufus, 24, 25 
Coblenz (Confluentes), 9, 58, 239, 241, 

Colline gate, the, 223, 226-227 
Cologne, 11, 38, 58, 239, 240, 245, 254, 

264, 268-270, 285, 288, 304, 351 
" Cologne Column," march of the, 40, 

Constance, Lake, 7, 9, 28, 231, 293 
Consuma Pass, the, 349 
Corbulo, Domitius, 157, 202, 236, 251, 

Corsica, 76, -]-j 
Cremona : 

in the Vitellian invasion, 62, 80-81, 
83-87, 90, 92-95, 101-124, 129, 
T-2>b-i?£>, 338-339 
in the Flavian invasion, 169-173, 

183, 190-204 
sack of, 204-206, 220 
Cugerni, the, 240, 270, 307, 330 

Dacians, the, 162, 163, 207, 285, 327 
Danube, the, 28, 29, 161, 162 



" Danube Army," the : 
under Otho, 26, 29-32, 36, 79, 95, 

101-106, 337-338 
under Vitellius, 135-138, 153, 154, 
161, 164-165, 177-179 
" Delmona," the, 194 
Die (Dea Vocontiorum), 61 
Domitian, the Emperor, 9, 20, 22, 
156, 220, 224, 251, 253, 294, 

3 I 5. 3 2 7- 33 2 
Doria Riparia, the, 61 
Drome, the river, 60 
Druids, the, 244-245, 285 
Drusus Claudius Caesar, 236 
Drusus' Agger, 236-237, 309 
Drusus' Fosse, 236-237 
Dubius Avitus, 251 
Dyrrhachium, 147, 148 

" Eastern Army," the, 21-22, 137, 141- 

Egypt, 21-23, 34, 143, 146 
Elbe, the, 8 

Emmerich, 231, 232, 236 
Eporedia (Ivrea), 65, 70 
Epponina, 318 

Fano (Fanum Fortunae), 209, 211, 

212, 215, 219 
Faventia (Faenza), 348-349 
Ferento (Ferentinum), 13 
Finance, Roman, 7, 131 
Firmus, Plotius, 126 
Flaccus, Hordeonius, 9, 36, 166, 248, 

259, 262, 263, 268, 269, 284 
Fleet, the Roman : 

under Otho, 50-52, 61, 70, 73-79 
under Vitellius, 149, 180-181, 214, 

216, 348-350 
the Flavian, 146-149 
the Rhine flotilla, 237, 262, 308-313 
the " Classis Britannica," 306 
Florus, Julius, 243, 247 
Foligno (Fulginium), 209, 210, 219 
Fonteius Agrippa, 248, 292 
Forum Alieni (Legnago), 170, 171, 

185, 187 
Fossombrone (Forum Sempronii), 209 
Frejus (Forum Julii), 51, 52, 61, 75 
Frisii, the, 234-237, 239, 251, 262, 

304, 320, 323, 330 
Frontiers : 

the Danube, 29-32, 157, 161-163, 

285, 292, 332 
the Eastern, 21, 143, 145 
the Rhine, 8-9, 28, 142, 236-237, 
251-252, 266, 332 

Furlo Pass, the, 349 

Fuscus, Cornelius, 154, 156-157, 180, 

Galba, Servius Sulpicius, the Emperor: 
descent and early career, 5, 24-25, 

election as Emperor, 5-6 
principate of, 6-15, 23, 27, 33, 6o, 

139, 157, 248 
death, 15, 22 
Galeria, 129 
Galerius Trachalus, 129 
"Gallic Independence," 242-245 
Gallic tribes : 

See Aedui, Allobroges, Baetasii, 
Belgae, Caeracates, Helvetii, 
Leuci, Lingones, Mediomatrici, 
Nemetes, Nervii, Remi, Se- 
quani, Treveri, Triboci, Van- 
Gallus, Annius, 70, 71, 81, 85, 86, 96, 

114, 292-294, 297, 315 
Gallus, Herennius, 254, 263, 269, 270 
Gaul. See Provinces, Roman 
Gelduba (Gellep), 269-271, 273, 275- 

278, 284, 303, 351 
German tribes : 

See Batavi, Bructeri, Cannenefates, 
Chatti, Chauci, Cherusci, Cim- 
bri, Cugerni, Frisii, Marsaci, 
Mattiaci, Suebi, Sugambri, 
Tencteri, Tungri, Ubii, Usipi 
Germany, Lower and Upper. See 

Provinces, Roman 
" Germany, the Army of" : 

under Galba, 9-12, 26-28, 130-131 
under Otho and Vitellius, 159, 164- 
169, 181-184, 196-197, 250- 
260, 323-332 
Germany, Independent, 7-8, 239-240, 

307, 318-319 
Gladiators as troops, 70, 84, 94, 119 
Goch, 270 

"Golden House," the, 131 
Grinnes, 310 

Hadrian, the Emperor, 132 
Helvetii, the, 28, 63-64 
Herod Agrippa II., King, 143, 144 
Hordeonius Flaccus. See Flaccus 
Hostilia (Ostiglia), 39, 46, 71, 86, 102, 

103, 106, 169-172, 185-187, 190, 

192, 348, 349 

" Imperium Galliarum," the, 243-245, 
29c 3 T 7. 320-321 



Inn, the river, 28, 67-69, 162, 187 

Interamna (Terni), 218, 219, 221-223 

Intimilium (Ventimiglia), 74 

Isola Pescaroli, 343 

Istria, 30, 158 

Italicus, Prince of Suebi, 161 

" Italy, Army of," 37, 42, 43, 164 

Ivrea. See Eporedia 

Javolenus Priscus, 251 

Jazyges, the, 162 

Jerusalem, 143, 146 

Jewish war, the, 21-23, 1 38-i39> 142- 

r 43. I4S. M6, 281-282 
Josephus, 140 

Julius Caesar, 241, 242, 244, 247, 317 
Jura, the, 64, 242 

Labeo, Claudius, 257, 259, 290, 295 
Langres (Andemantunnum), 58, 59 
Legions, the Roman. See Army, the 

Legnago (Forum Alieni), 170, 171, 

185, 187 
Lek, the river, 231, 232, 236, 309, 

Leuci, the, 58 
Lingones, the, 25, 58, 242-244, 248, 

285, 293-295, 297, 300, 302, 305, 

3i5. 320, 330 
Lippe, the river, 250, 289, 312 
Locus Castorum, battle of, 88-92, 338 
Luc-en-Diois (Lucus Augusti), 61 
Lugdunum (Lyon), 26-28, 34, 59, 60, 

128, 131 
Lusones, the, 25 

Maas, the river (or Meuse), 232, 240, 

241, 290, 312 
Macer, L. Clodius, 23 
Macer, Martius, 84, 94, 95, 108 
Mainz (Moguntiacum), 26, 239, 251- 

257, 263, 268, 284, 285, 288, 

290, 296, 297, 315, 328, 351 
Mantua, 46, 71, 81, 85, 86, 190-191, 

Marcodurum (Diiren), 270 
Marius Celsus, 86, 88-89, °6. 106, 

116, 119, 121 
Marne, the river, 58 
Marsaci, the, 239 
Mattiaci, the, 239, 251, 284, 330 
Mauretania. See Provinces, the Roman 
Maximus, M. Trebellius, 24 
Mediomatrici, the, 58, 241, 294, 297 
Merwede, the, 232 
Messalla, Vipstanus, 189, 195 

Metaurus, the river, 209, 349 
Metz (Divodurum), 58, 241, 298 
Mevania (Bevagna), 209, 214-219 
Milan (Mediolanum), 65 
Mirebeau-sur-Beze, 294 
Moguntiacum. See Mainz 
Monaco, 184 
Mont Genevre Pass, the, 51, 57, 61, 

Moselle, the, 58, 241, 265, 286, 294, 

Mucianus, C. Licinius, 21, 23, 129, 

137. 139. 141. 142, 146-153. »S7. 

163, 179, 210, 211, 214, 290-291 
Munius Lupercus, 253, 262, 289 
Mutina (Modena), 71, 191 

Nabalia, the river (? Yssel), 314 

Nar, the river, 218, 219 

Narnia, 217-222 

"Nationalism," 242-245, 320, 321 

Nava, the river (Nahe), 296, 298 

Neckar, the, 252, 332 

Nemetes, the, 256 

Nero, the Emperor, 1-6, n, 13, 14, 

19, 21-24, 34, 73, 131, 139, 145, 

242, 248, 317 
Nervii, the, 237, 241, 244, 256, 257, 


Nocera Umbra (Nuceria), 209 

Novaesium (Neuss), 26, 254, 257, 269, 
271, 276-278, 284, 286, 288, 
306, 309, 311, 328 

Novara (Novaria), 65 

Noviomagus (? Nymwegen), 310, 328 

Numisius Rufus, 254 

Nymwegen (Batavodurum or Novio- 
magus), 232, 262, 310, 328 

Ocriculum (Otricoli), 222-224, 34^ 

Oglio, the river, 85, 86, 115, 194 

Opitergium (Oderzo), 185 

Ostia, 34 

Otho, Marcus Salvius, the Emperor : 
birth and earl}' career, 13-15, 24 
principate, 15, 22-27, 30-32, 131, 

campaign against the Vitellians, 71, 

95" I2 4 
as strategist, 70-73, 77-81, 100-114, 

116, 120-124 
death, 124-127 
character, 14, 107, 123, 127 

Padua (Patavium), 170, 180, 185-188 
Pannonian Alps. See Alps 
Parma, 191-192 



Parthians, the, 2, 145, 157 
Passau (Castra Batava), 28, 163 
Paulinus, Pompeius, 236 
Petronius Urbicus, 68, 69 
" Peutinger Table," the, 339 
Piadena, 119 
Pieve Delmona, 115 
Pincian Hill, the, 225-226 
Pisa, 184, 348, 349 
Piso, L. Calpurnius, 12-15 
Pizzighettone, 113 

Placentia (Piacenza), 39, 45-50, 56, 
70, 80-84, 87, 93, 96, 98, 102, 

113. 338-339 
Plutarch : 

on Otho, 126-127 

on the first battle of Bedriacum, 341- 

Po, the, 39, 45-46, 49, 50, 102, 169 
Poetovio, 37, 136, 149, 154, 158 
Pomponius Secundus, P., 251 
Pontic fleet, the, 146 
Poppaea Sabina, 14, 15 
Portents, belief in, 140 
Praetorian Guards, the. See Army, the 

Proculus, Licinius, 106, 116, 119, 121, 

Provinces, the Roman : 

Africa, 10, 22, 23, 65, 146, 166 
Britain, 2, 22, 24, 59, 96, 98, 133, 

206, 252, 314 
Dalmatia, 24, 37, 59, 154, 207 
Gallia Belgica, 9, 26, 206, 240-242, 

Gallia Lugdunensis, 26 
Gallia Narbonensis, 26, 70, 96 
Germany, Lower, 9, 26, 250 
Germany, Upper, 6, 9, 26, 250 
Mauretania, 25, 98 
Moesia, 28-32, 37, 141, 154, 162, 

163, 207, 292 
Noricum, 28, 29, 68, 69, 161, 162, 

187, 293 
Pannonia, 28-32, 37, 154, 161, 163, 

Raetia, 28-29, 63-64, 68, 161, 162, 

187, 293 
Spain, 2, 5, 14, 24, 25, 97, 166, 

206, 207 
Syria, 21, 22, 141, 142 

Ravenna, 170-172, 179, 180, 183, 185, 

Recruiting, system of, 17-18, 259, 323- 

3 2 9 
Remi, the, 242, 244, 294 

Republicanism, Roman, n, 20, 23 

Rhine, the, 7, 8, 28, 231-232, 251- 
252, 264-265, 269, 307 

Rhone, the, 26, 59, 60, 242, 293 

Rieti (Reate), 21 

Rigodulum (Riol), 298-300 

Rome : 

importance in the civil wars, 97, 151 

under Galba, 6 

under Otho, 30, 40 

under Vitellius, 129-130, 215 

burning of the Capitol, 224 

capture by the Flavians, 225-229 

Rotterdam, 231, 232, 312 

Roxolani, the, 31-32, 162, 163 

Sabinus, Flavius, 220, 223-225 
Sabinus, Julius, 247, 285, 294, 317- 

Sacrovir, Julius, 243, 247 
St. Bernard Pass, Great, 58, 65, 66, 

68, 70, 291, 293 
St. Bernard Pass, Little, 291, 293 
Salii, the, 72 
Salonina, 83 
Saone, the, 26, 59, 242 
Sardinia, 76-77 
Sarmatians, the, 31-32, 162, 285, 292, 

Savile, Sir Henry, translation of the 

Histories, 74, 292 
Saxa Rubra, 225 
Sea, command of the. See Strategy 

and Tactics 
Sequani, the, 242-244, 294, 317, 320 
Sextilius Felix, 162, 293, 295, 296 
Sido, Prince of Suebi, 161, 162 
Silvanus, M. Pompeius, 154-155 
Singidunum (Belgrade), 28 
Sohaemus, Prince of Sophene, 143 
Spoleto (Spoletium), 218 
Spurinna, Vestricius, 70, 80-85, 95 
Stoichades Islands (lies d'Hyeres), 

184, 350 
Strategy and Tactics : 

ambushes and surprises, 87-92, 273- 

274- 3 OI "304 
annihilation, strategy of, 154-165 ; 

and see Offence, strategy of 
artillery and siege-engines, 200, 203, 

base of operations, double, 47 
cavalry, use of, 88-89 
commander - in - chief, position in 

battle, 108-109 
commissariat and supplies, 211, 

212, 269, 277-278 



communications, line of, 47-49, 61, 

71, 78, 84, 113, 178, 185 
concentration on the field of battle, 55 
councils of war, 99 
defence, strategy of, 42, 53-55, 96- 

100, 148-153. I73" l8 4 
defence, tactical, 169-173, 178-179 
double objective, strategy of, 148 
envelopment, strategy of, 53, 100- 

114, 120-124 
exhaustion, strategy of, 148-153, 164 
flank marches, risks of, 102-105, 

110-112, 190-191 
fortresses, use of, 266, 283-284 
front to a flank, tactical position 

of, 48-49, 178 
Initiative, value of strategical, 38, 152 
minor operations of war, 51, 76-77 
obstacles, strategical : 

mountains, 42-45, 52, 219 
rivers, 50 
offence, strategy of, 38, 52, 54, 55, 

146-153, i73" l8 4 
outposts and sentries, 171 
penetration, strategy of, 38, 56, 66- 

69, 92-95 
penetration, tactical, 100, 120 
pivot of manoeuvre, a, 45 
pursuit, 91, 92, 280-281 
rearguard action, 281-282 
reconnaissance in force, 82-83 
rivers, defence of, 50 
scope of strategy, 53 
sea, command of the, 50-52, 61-62, 

75-79- 149. IS 2 -IS3. i59-i6o 
speed, importance of, 55, 63, 72, 79 
surprises. See Ambushes and sur- 
tactics, relation of strategy to, 91, 99 
Suebi, the, 161, 162 
Suetonius the biographer, 228 
Suetonius Paulinus, 71, 86, 88-92, 95- 

100, 106, 116, 119, 121, 128, 

Sugambri, the, 270, 330 
Syria. See Provinces, the Roman 
Syrian legions, the, 141, 142 

Tacitus : 

characteristics, 168, 173, 206, 286, 
289, 348-350 

as military historian, 69, 76-77- 82, 
90-92, 99, 107, 115, 121-124, 
161, 191-192, 278-281, 289, 
344, 346-347 ; and see Preface 

quoted, 3, 7, 15, 30, 62, 74, 119, 
132, 138, 189, 203, 215, 217 

Tampius Flavianus, L., 154-155 

Tarracina, 216 

Tartaro, the river, 169, 172, 173, 181- 

183, 186, 190, 192 
Taunus, 232, 234, 239, 251 
Tencteri, the, 239, 300, 302, 320 
Theiss, the river, 161, 162 
Tiber flood, the, 72 
Tiberius, the Emperor, 3, 9, 10, 19, 

235. 243. 270, 317 
Ticinum (Pavia), 62, 82, 92 
Tiridates of Armenia, 145 
Titianus, Salvius, 95, 106, 116, 119, 

121, 129 
Titus, the Emperor, 22, 23, 139, 144, 

Tolbiacum (Ziilpich), 304-305 
Tongres, 240 
Toul (Tullum), 58 
Trajan, the Emperor, 20, 162 
Treveri, the, 58, 241, 243-245, 257, 

285, 293-305 
Treves, 58, 241, 289, 297-304, 317 
Triboci, the, 295 

Tungri, the, 240-241, 245, 285, 305, 330 
Turin (Augusta Taurinorum), 61, 133, 

134, 258 
Tutor, Julius, 247, 285-288, 295, 296, 

298, 300, 304, 317 

Ubii, the, 240, 270, 285, 300, 302, 

320, 330 
Urbinum, 184, 350 
Usipi, the, 239, 284 

Vada, 310 

Vahalis, the river (Waal), 231, 232, 

308-310, 312, 313 
Valence (Valentia), 60 
Valens, Fabius : 

birth and early career, 1 1 
invasion of Italy, 37-62, 74-75, 92 
first campaign of Bedriacum, 92-95, 

under Vitellius, 128, 137 
second campaign of Bedriacum, 167, 
172-173, 180, 183-184, 211, 
213. 348, 35o 
death, 222, 350 
character, 60, 93, 180 
Valentinus, Julius, 247, 297, 298, 317 
Valerius Festus, 166 
Vangiones, the, 295, 330 
Vatican, the, 130 
Vedius Aquila, 95 

Veleda the prophetess, 250, 289, 312, 
316, 352 



Vercellae (Vercelli), 65 
Vercingetorix, 242, 317 
Verginius Rufus, L. , 6, 9, 10, 243 
Verona, 39, 46, 66, 67, 154, 169, 178, 

187-192, 212 
Vesontio (Besancon), 243, 293 
Vespasian, the Emperor, 6, 20-22, 64, 

129, 137-153' 214, 230, 248, 

252, 259, 264, 290, 317, 318, 

326-329, 332 
as strategist, 147-153 
character, 22, 138-140, 230 
Vetera, Castra, 26, 239, 244, 249, 253, 

254. 2 S7. 262-289, 306-308, 
325. 3 2 7. 328, 3S°-35 2 

Via Egnatia, 147 

Via Flaminia, 72, 209-210, 214, 218, 

222-223, 348 
Via Postumia, 87, 102, 192, 194, 198, 

199. 339 
Via Salaria, 210, 223, 226 
Vicenza (Vicetia), 11, 188 
Vienne, 27, 60, 133 
Vindex, the revolt of, 5-6, 10, 27, 34, 

242-243, 248-249 
Vindonissa (Windisch), 26, 28, 38, 62, 

255, 290, 293-295, 328, 331 

" Vindonissa Column," inarch of the, 

40, 41, 57, 62-70 
Vitellius, the Emperor : 

birth and early career, 9-1 1, 65 

in Germany, 11, 12, 15 

invasion of Italy, 24, 36, 57-58, 99, 

112, 120, 128-129 
in Rome, 129-132 
defensive measures, 165-166, 212 

218, 258, 261 
death, 228-229 

character, 11, 58, 120, 129, 131-132, 
208, 212-216, 220, 221, 229- 
Vitellius, Lucius, 215, 217, 230 
Vocetius, Mons, 64 
Vocula, Dillius, 255, 268-284, 3°7 

death, 284-288, 290, 350-352 
Vologeses of Parthia, 145 
Volusius, C. , 203 

Xanten. See Vetera, Castra 

Yssel, the river, 237 

Zuider Zee, the, 232-234, 237 



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